Before Birmingham's match against QPR, I interviewed Wayne Sumner, who has been a season ticket holder at Loftus Road for 44 years. You can follow Wayne on Twitter @bexhoops. Here, he discusses the factors behind QPR’s struggles in their promotion bid, the club’s financial situation, and whether or not Birmingham City would have been better off with Gianni Paladinni…
You’ve spent loads of money, you’ve got a squad jam-packed with Premier League quality, and a manager with a wealth of experience in Harry Redknapp. In 4th place, would you agree that you’re underperforming, and if so what has gone wrong?
At the start of the season with all the comings and goings, we were really in the dark as to how the season would unfold. Harry done his usual wheeling and dealing and brought in some experienced premiership players and after a solid start, we seem to have trailed off. So, in answer to your question, yes we are underperforming but as to what has gone wrong: the defence that was once so strong at the beginning of the season has been hit by an injury or two and is now leaking goals in costly games. 2 centre backs over the age of 34 is also not helping matters. Lack of goals from midfield also seems to be a problem.
How big a blow could the injury to Charlie Austin be?
Charlie’s injury was a massive blow as was the injury to Matt Phillips who is also out for the season. When you make two marquee signings in the summer, losing both of them in quick succession is always going to be a blow, especially considering the attacking prowess that both players offered. In January although we were desperate, it seemed that we did not sign any useful forwards, instead taking a punt on players like Kevin Doyle and Will Keane (from Manchester united) ,a gamble which has unfortunately not yet paid off and it remains to be seen if it will do so.
As well as having a big wage bill, you’re building a new 40,000-seater stadium. If you don’t go up this season, would you worry about your club’s finances?
Of course it would be a worry. With the reported debt of £140million it would be hard to see the club continuing in the same manor. That being said, a lot of the high earners brought in during the Mark Hughes/ Neil Warnock era are coming to the end of their costly contracts (Sean Wright- Phillips) and the board are now offering more short term deals, which seems in the short term, to be doing the trick. As for the 40,000 seater stadium, that Is still a long way off and until the club can cement its place in the premiership, remains to be seen whether it will or will not go ahead as planned.
Best moment as a QPR fan.
The Entire 75/76 season under Dave Sexton was pure entertainment. Players such as Stan Bowles and Gerry Francis made rangers a joy to watch and a force to be reckoned with. We finished runners up in Division 1, pipped at the final game by Liverpool winning at Wolves. Everybody says that’s the best side never to win the title. In recent years, it is hard to look past either the title winning game vs leeds (2010/2011) that took us back to the premiership.
Easy. The 2002/2003 FA cup replay against Vauxhall Motors. After drawing 0-0 at their ground and thinking that we had got ourselves out of trouble, the replay at loftus road finished 1-1 and they beat us on penalties. Heartbreak. Close second, was the playoff final defeat in the same year Vs Cardiff at the millennium stadium (a long trip back home).
You finished bottom of the Premier League last season, despite heavy spending. Is that a lesson to other chairmen that splashing the cash on big names doesn’t always work?
It is impossible to draw the same conclusions as we have all seen what has happened with the likes of Chelsea and Man City over the years, but it is definitely a lesson that needs to be learnt by the so called ‘smaller clubs.’ Just looking at Cardiff City this season would be testament to this fact. With more and more foreign owners coming into the game demanding instant success, I’m afraid this is a trend that is set to continue.
A lot has been talked about the rising cost of tickets. How decent are the prices at QPR, and what are your thoughts on football ticket pricing in general?
Tickets for away fans at Loftus Road are £25, which are fairly reasonable for London prices. There are also deals for students/ seniors as well as cheap tickets for U16’s and free tickets for under 8’s. Last season in the premier league was an eye opener, with teams like Fulham charging away fans £50, which is excessive considering the quality of both the teams on display and the overall facilities for fans.
Gianni Paladini publicly said he’d made a bid to takeover Birmingham a few months ago, though the deal is off now. He was on the board at QPR not long ago – thoughts on him?
Well it certainly wouldn’t have been dull: a gun in the boardroom, a mysterious man outside walking up and down claiming he was owed money, not to mention the whole Faurlin incident that almost cost us promotion with the threat of point deductions. Despite this, for all his wrong doings, under his stewardship we were promoted as ‘planned,’ so you really have to take the good with the bad. Personally speaking I think you’ve got away lightly.
Your prediction for this game…
St Andrews has never been a good ground for us, with our last win there being in the 80’s (2-0 in 1984). Before that it was the league cup semi-final in 1967, so I’m hoping we can change history and I’m predicting a 1-0 win to the R’s.