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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?