Tony Fernandes completes takeover of QPR

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The Independent Online

Tony Fernandes has labelled QPR a "fantastic diamond" and pledged to help the club reach its "limitless" potential over the coming years.

The Malaysian business tycoon completed his takeover of the west London club today after buying out previous majority shareholders Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone.

Fernandes' company Tune Group has bought a 66% stake and his business partners will work alongside the Mittal family, who have retained their 33% stake in the club.

The 47-year-old, who has previously attempted to buy boyhood heroes West Ham, believes QPR have huge potential and has vowed to utilise it.

"You are in London, which is fantastic," he told Press Association Sport.

"The potential of developing this ground at some stage or to another ground nearby is there.

"There is the potential to develop an academy and good training facilities.

"The potential to take QPR to other parts of the world is also there, with Amit [Bhatia]'s relationships and my relationships in Asia.

"[The potential is] limitless and it is a fantastic diamond, which just needs a bit of polishing."

Fernandes' personal fortune was estimated at £200million in 2010 when he was ranked Malaysia's 19th richest person.

The AirAsia founder's deal sees vice-chairman Amit Bhatia return to the board after resigning in May following a disagreement with the board over ticket price increases.

Bhatia joined the board as a representative of father-in-law Lakshmi Mittal in 2007 and Fernandes is relieved to have completed the deal.

"I got this big grin on my face as I was driving down because I have walked past this ground so many times," said Fernandes, who lived on nearby Uxbridge Road for several years.

"To think that I am chairman of this club now is kind of unbelievable.

"I'm relieved to have completed the deal.

"It has been up down, up down and obviously with the last couple of experiences of English football clubs it would have been a terrible blow to have invested all this time for nothing to have happened."

Fernandes, who is also the team principal of Formula One's Team Lotus, has promised to bring in new faces to the Barclays Premier League club before the transfer window closes in a couple of weeks.

QPR's start to life back in the top flight after a 15-year absence got off to the worst possible start last weekend with a 4-0 home defeat to Bolton.

Fernandes was at the game and has promised to support Neil Warnock's bid to strengthen the team, but was keen to temper short-term expectations.

"I think my major issue is dampening down everybody's enthusiasm that tomorrow everything is going to change," he added.

"This will take time. The next couple of weeks will be hectic and I think Neil is released from the cage so to speak and is bouncing up and down because he can speak to other people and stuff.

"It is not that the previous owners were wrong, it is just they knew they were going to sell so they had a different investment paradigm.

"Having said that, they picked up some great players.

"The one great thing out of the Bolton game was our strike force looked as good as anybody's.

"DJ Campbell looked fantastic, Jay Bothroyd looked great and up to about 40 minutes I actually think we outplayed Bolton.

"I think the previous owners did good on a lot of things and I am just hear to strengthen it."

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