Divisions between QPR players made demise
of Mark Hughes inevitable

With wages greater than turnover, relegation would be catastrophic

Mark Hughes was preparing to take training at QPR’s Harlington training ground this morning when there was a knock on the door.

When it opened, to reveal chief executive Phil Beard and Kamarundin Bin Meranun, a significant shareholder, the Welshman knew his time was up. 

It was a shock. Despite the growing speculation over his future, and the changing tone of chairman Tony Fernandes’s tweets, Hughes anticipated taking his team to Old Trafford today. Reports that he had been asked to resign this week and refused are wrong. But for the club’s powerbrokers last week’s home defeat to Southampton was the final straw.

Since Fernandes took over in August 2011, QPR’s wage bill has mushroomed to levels that are unsustainable outside the top flight and hard to finance inside it. In the immediate aftermath of his buying out Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, wages of £60-70,000 a week were agreed to persuade players such as Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips to join a newly-promoted club. Another wave was sanctioned in January including Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cissé for a combined £9m. In the summer he invested again, taking Hughes’s net transfer spending to £23m with a wage bill to match after players including Adel Taarabt were given new contracts.

With Loftus Road holding less than  19,000, wages may well be in excess of 100 per cent of turnover. Relegation would thus be catastrophic; survival would provide access to TV income expected to be worth £5bn to the Premier League next year.

Hughes took over in January after Kia Joorabchian, his adviser, made contact with Fernandes, originally to negotiate the proposed transfer of another client, Chelsea’s Alex, for then-manager Neil Warnock. QPR failed to land Alex, but did bring in Hughes, who had been out of work since leaving Fulham seven months earlier.

He inherited a split dressing-room with members of the Championship-winning team resenting the salaries being paid to the newcomers, especially as some did not seem to be earning them. It was so divided one of the players warned  Hughes early on it was “the worst he had ever experienced”. Nevertheless, Warnock had managed to stay outside the relegation zone; Hughes maintained that status, just, surviving on the final day after Bolton let slip a winning position at Stoke.

Hughes promised the club would not struggle again and spent heavily in the summer, but that only added to the dressing-room factions despite several players, notably Barton, being  forced out. Also breeding discontent were the antiquated training facilities – owned by Imperial College and still used by students. Hughes and his staff, having been at  Manchester City, were shocked and regarded them as “30 years out of date”.  On one pitch the floodlights even face the wrong way.

The tense atmosphere was reflected in performances. The season began with a dire  5-0 home defeat to Swansea City after which Hughes, in an act of panic or decisiveness depending on interpretation, dropped Rob Green for another new signing, Julio Cesar.

Training-ground disputes continued, with the fractious mood betrayed by a surfeit of red cards – nine so far in 2012. Hughes felt his marquee signing Ji-Sung Park, wanted for his experience and Fernandes for his marketing potential, had performed poorly, but the captain was not alone; Hughes used 35 players in his first 24 matches, but whatever the combination results did not improve. Finally, Fernandes, who had been supportive in a one-hour conference call just a week ago, felt he had to act.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year