Five years is a long time in football, particularly for Queens Park Rangers. And five years on from their last promotion to the Premier League, the club are still suffering from a failed shot at the big time during five manic seasons that saw them go up and down twice.
QPR took the promotion gamble and lost. Now, they are paying the price for falling foul of Financial Fair Play regulations, which led to a £42m settlement with the English Football League last summer and a transfer ban during the January window.
“Were in a prolonged period of trying to recover from the excesses of our failed Premier League tilt,” Clive Whittingham of QPR fansite Loftforwords tells City A.M. “Halving your wage bill and then halving it again while staying competitive on the pitch is a challenge.”
Having spent last summer trimming their salary budget, offloading big names such as captain Nedum Onuoha, their 2018-19 objectives were limited to mere survival.
Although this was achieved with relative ease – they finished 19th but were 11 points above the relegation zone – manager Steve McClaren lost his job in April.
McClarens QPR had offered false hope, spending much of the first half of the season just outside the play-off positions before a calamitous run of form saw them tumble towards the lower reaches.
The former England manager became a victim of that run – and his failure to find the best solution to the clubs dire financial circumstances require.
“McClaren was brought in to coach a number of promising youngsters we have at the club,” says Whittingham. “But we saw precious little of that development taking place. He demanded a load of expensive, senior loan signings that we couldnt afford to bail him out.”
New manager Mark Warburton is well prepared for QPRs financial predicament. The former City trader made his name at Brentford by developing players such as James Tarkowski and Andre Gray and selling them for a large profit.
That tactic is QPRs only option if they are to emerge from the financial mire. Already, Warburton has filled his squad with young free agents and loanees.
The first remit upon which Warburton will be judged, therefore, is how he manufactures team chemistry within a squad packed with new faces.