“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, is the famous definition of insanity.
Whether Albert Einstein was the true author of this is up for debate, but the substantial application it has is something humans cannot escape. This includes football owners. In a landscape where hundreds of millions is at stake for football clubs, the owners, managers, staff and players cannot get it wrong. If they do, they will be punished.
Tony Fernandes’s and Ruben Gnanalingam’s tenure as the majority owners of Queens Park Rangers has been one associated with on-the-field and off-the-field naivety, arrogance and embarrassment. They are mainly responsible for the £17m Financial Fair Play fine and two relegations from the Premier League. They have additionally seen the club go backwards further – from the need to gain promotion, to the necessary demand to survive. Yet they still believe they are the people to lead the club forward; no matter how far QPR fall.
The prominent factor behind the downward turn since the Malaysian owners took-over in 2011 is that they have simply proven an inability to oversee a successful football club. In May 2015, Tony Fernandes declared to the Guardian, “we are wiser every time” in reference to their growing experience in the football business. But five years on, little suggests they are. Four managers – Chris Ramsey, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ian Holloway and Steve McClaren – have been sacked since. Despite stability being offered under Holloway, the club opted to replace the former player with McClaren, in the hope he would help the team to progress. Their experiment failed.
In the present day, the Premier League is a far away dream; the long-awaited plans for a new training ground is moving at a snail’s pace, and the planning for a 30,000 seater stadium will mean Rangers may abandon their 102 year home for something alien. The long-term plan of a large new stadium will cause tension between the fan base and the owners as the former fear of entering a similar position of West Ham or Coventry City fans find themselves in. It’s an idea that will continue to separate the fans and club.
QPR’s collapse from 8th to 19th is a remarkably frightening feat. A run of consecutively losing seven games and the demoralising defeats to Rotherham and Bolton at home are warning signs flashing intensely in the clubs face. A dark cloud looming over the club intensifies when five senior players leave on a free transfer, the defence has two recognised right-backs, two recognised centre-backs, while the only senior striker is out-of-contract Matt Smith.
It is a pathetic position Mark Warburton has been handed. Like the managers before him, he will become a victim of the owners incompetence to realise the main issue regarding QPR: that they are the inexcusable reason why, the honest community club in White City, is spiralling far beyond repair. From the FFP fine to the new stadium dream and continuous underwhelming performances, the zig-zag of chaos leads back to them. They cannot seem to accept their own insanity.