|QPR have four moved for TV, Fernandes surveys new ground sites - diary|
Thu 05th Jul 2012 23:18 by Clive Whittingham
The first set of television fixtures are out and QPR feature four times before the end of November. In other news chairman Tony Fernandes says progress is being made on the quest for a new stadium.
Rangers’ first televised match of the new season will be on ESPN on Saturday September 1 when we travel to Manchester City for a 5.30pm kick off. Clearly the broadcaster, which loses its Premier League rights at the end of the season, will be hoping for similar drama to that served up by the two sides on the final day of last season.
Sky have picked three QPR games initially – all at Loftus Road. The home game with West Ham will now be on Monday October 1 at 8pm while the home games with Everton and Reading have been put back 24 hours to Sunday October 21 (4pm) and Sunday November 1 (1.30pm) respectively. The game at Tottenham has also been put back 24 hours to Sunday September 23 at 4pm due to their Europa League commitments.
The televised games are now sorted until the end of November – with newly promoted West Ham featuring seven times in the opening four months – and the next set to cover December and the Christmas and New Year period are due out on September 17.
In other fixture news the reserves have confirmed pre-season friendlies at non league Woking on Saturday July 21 (3pm), and League Two Aldershot three days later at 7.45pm. They will also play Leyton Orient at Harlington on Tuesday August 7. London clubs are being restricted in their pre-season activities by a ban on all sporting fixtures in the city during the Olympic Games which start at the end of the month.
Today’s other major news came from chairman Tony Fernandes, who told Press Association reporter Simon Peach that the club is evalutating three plots of land around Shepherds Bush as potential sites for a new stadium. With Chelsea’s bid to buy Battersea Power Station and relocate there over today the pressure on Rangers not to have a potential site snatched by their bitter rivals right on their doorstep is on once more and Fernandes says the plans are now progressing.
he said: "I am getting a full report on one of the pieces of ground. I think we have three potential choices and we are going to evaluate it and then take it to the shareholders. It has actually not even been a year that we have owned this club and I am very pleased with the kind of progress we have made in one year. If we can continue at this kind of pace, then things should look good at QPR."
Fernandes is in the UK this week ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend. Yesterday striker Djibril Cisse and Player of the Year Clint Hill were treated to a day testing out various cars from Fernandes’ Caterham team along with driver Heikki Kovalainen.
The players return to pre-season training on Monday and defender Nedum Onuoha told the club’s official website: "I'm looking forward to being back. It'll be good to start playing football again but I don't think many players look forward to pre-season. It's more so the start of the season. I'll probably know what to expect from the manager more than anyone having player under him before. It's going to be hard but it'll be good to go into next season with a proper pre-season under our belts." No official news yet on the future of goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. The Irish international has been bumped down the pecking order at Loftus Road this summer by the arrival of Robert Green from West Ham and seems certain to be reunited with Neil Warnock for the fourth time in his career at Leeds United. However with a protracted takeover still working its way through at Elland Road we await confirmation on where Kenny will be playing his football next season with West London Sport today linking him with a move to Hull City.
Standing at the graveside ready to jump in is Brian Murphy, who started as Kenny’s understudy last season but missed out on the chance to replace him when they were injured at the same time in November and was subsequently relegated to third choice by Radek Cerny’s flying form. Murphy, who signed last summer on a free transfer from Ipswich, told the Irish Herald he’s keen to make a better fist of his second year at Loftus Road.
Murphy said: “"If Paddy goes then the number two slot will be up for grabs and that's what I have to aim for. We're back in for pre-season training this week and we're off to Malaysia for some pre-season games so my aim is to do well in training, try to stand out and nail down the number two slot. I'm not naive enough to think that they'll bring in an England international like Rob Green and not play him so any of the keepers at the club are bound to be behind him, but if I can get that number two spot and then an injury or suspension crops up I might get my opportunity.
"They still have Radek Cerny at the club and they've given him another year but I'd hope that they see me as someone for the long-term. Radek did well when he came in but I'd like to think I'd get an opportunity. The club have told my agent that they are 100 per cent sure that they want me to stay on and if things go well I could even end up talking to them about a new contract as my current deal is up next year."
Somebody else in no hurry to leave is striker Rob Hulse, despite a severe lack of first team action over the last 18 months. Hulse made one start and two substitute appearances for the R’s last season without scoring and has recently been linked with a reunion with Neil Warnock at Leeds but his agent Matt Buck told the Fulham Chronicle his client had no intention of moving on with a year still to run on his lucrative Loftus Road deal.
Buck said: “I've spoken to Rob over the summer and we've not had any talks with the manager or anyone else at the club about moving on. Obviously he wants to be playing more, but there's been no discussions about leaving. Rob's worked hard over the summer and is now back to full fitness, so will be returning for the start of pre-season training next week.”
The paper has also linked striker DJ Campbell with a move to Leeds. The former Blackpool man has previously said he is open to offers this summer with Mark Hughes not involving him in his plans for the coming season.
Also leaving, according to The Chronicle, is defender Luke Young who has apparently fallen out of favour with Hughes since his part in a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland last season. Young, however, will only leave Loftus Road for another London club having recently relocated back to the capital. The Mirror reports the right back is interesting Premiership new boys Reading.
But Adel Taarabt suddenly seems keen to extend his stay at Loftus Road. The Moroccan, out of contract next summer, told London24: ““I want to stay at QPR. I have received offers from other Premier League clubs, but my deal is signed until June 2013 and I want to increase the contract. My agent has a document from the club about their long-term project, and it’s very interesting to me.”
Taarabt’s attitude reflects the feel good atmosphere around the club at the moment. Djibril Cisse told Sky Sports: “The training ground looks really, really different and better, so everything is good for a good season. There is a lot of potential, Tony is someone who is a winner, he likes to win and he wants QPR to do well this season. He is doing everything he can to bring in some players and to build a really good team. I’m really happy to be here, to be a part of it and to be able to help QPR to grow. I’m really proud of that.” Fernandes isn’t keen to wait around on other potential transfer targets mind. With Andy Johnson, Ryan Nelsen, Robert Green, Fabio and Samba Diakite already in through the front door this summer the chairman is keen to tie up any remaining business early and avoid the last minute rush of the previous two deadline days.
He told London24: “There may be three or four more, we’ll have to wait and see. I am guessing, though. The target was to try and do as much as business before pre-season so that Mark would have as much time as possible to work on the team. We’re pushing hard. We’ve given some players deadlines to say ‘if you want to come to us, you have to come to us now’ so let’s see.”
Finally congratulations to youth team defender Jamie Sendles-White who has been called up by Northern Ireland Under 19s for the forthcoming Milk Cup tournament which will be held later this month.
The widow of late QPR captain Alan McDonald has thanked supporters and officials from the club for their support following his sudden death last weekend. QPR’s most capped player suffered a heart attack while playing golf aged 48. A host of his former QPR team mates - including Kevin Gallen, Andy Impey, Tony Roberts and Darren Peacock pictured below – attended his funeral in Co Down last week.
Tonia McDonald told the club’s official website: “I cannot thank the Rangers fans enough. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received from the Club, Alan's former team-mates and the fans this week. Alan loved every minute of the time he spent at QPR; he was proud to have captained and coached them. He never lost his affection for QPR even after we moved back to Ireland and he kept in touch with many of the friends he made during his career there. The club was always held with the highest esteem in his heart. For me to see and meet again so many of his former colleagues and friends yesterday was a reminder of just how highly he was thought of by everyone. Thank you everyone on behalf of myself and Joshua."
Elsewhere, good to hear that our old friend Gianni Paladini has been up to his old tricks again. The Italian, former QPR chairman of course, caused something of a stink in Peterborough last week when the Championship side accused him of trying to poach their manager, Darren Ferguson, for Nottingham Forest.
The Reds are currently managed by Steve Cotterill but have been without a permanent chairman or backer since the sad death of chairman Nigel Doughty, father of young QPR midfielder Michael, midway through last season. Managers of Doughty’s estate last week entered into final negotiations with the Al-Hasawi family from Kuwait and a takeover is set to be concluded soon. Peterborough accused Paladini of acting on behalf of the Al-Hasawi’s to sound out Ferguson about potentially taking over at the City Ground once the deal is concluded.
However in a statement to Sky Sports News today a spokesman for the The Al-Hasawi family said: "In light of erroneous media coverage in the British press over the past weekend, we wish to state that Mr Gianni Paladini has no authority to act on behalf of the Al-Hasawi Family in connection with our purchase of Nottingham Forest."
Always reassuring to know that as much as things change, they often stay the same.
Elsewhere Martin Allen is the new manager of League Two promotion hopefuls Gillingham. The former QPR midfielder left Barnet this summer after a brief third spell with the club where he once again saved them from relegation from the Football League. Allen was harshly sacked by League One Notts County and replaced by former QPR assistant boss Keith Curle midway through last season.
- Robin Van Persie, the reigning PFA Player of the Year, says he will not extend his contract at Arsenal beyond this season. The Dutch striker, who scored 41 goals in 53 club games last season, issued a statement following a meeting with Arsene Wenger and the club’ CEO saying: “Unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward." The club’s second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov today issued his own statement criticising the way the club was being run.
- Down the road at Spurs new manager Andre Villas Boas is ready to start work after being appointed as Harry Redknapp’s successor at the start of the week. The former Chelsea boss’ first job wll be to integrate Gylfi Sigurdsson into the squad after the Icelandic midfielder signed from Hoffenheim for £8m. Sigurdsson had been set to make a loan move to Swansea permanent before manager Brendan Rodgers left for Liverpool, and had then looked set for Anfield himself before Spurs hijacked the deal.
- New boys Reading have completed the signing of 28-year-old Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak on a four year deal following his release by Stuttgart. Pogrebnyak scored six goals in 12 matches on loan at Fulham last season but turned down the chance to make that move permanent. The Royals have also signed midfielder Danny Guthrie following his release by Newcastle, and Nottingham Forest winger Gareth McLeary, also on a free transfer.
- Everton and Stoke have both taken advantage of the collapse of Scottish giants Rangers by signing players who refused to have their contracts transferred to the club’s newco. Striker Steven Naismith moves to Goodison Park where he will again team up with Croat Nikica Jelavic, while 21-year-old midfielder Jamie Ness is moving to the Britannia Stadium on a free transfer.
- Norwich have caved into the demands of striker Grant Holt and agreed a three year contract with the 31-year-old. Holt scored 17 goals in the Premier League last season but had looked set for West Ham after the club initially refused to offer him a three year deal but he has now agreed to stay. The Canaries have also signed Barnsley midfielder Jacob Butterfield with the fee to be set by tribunal, and Rangers defender Steven Whittaker on a free transfer.
Pictures – Action Images, Gary Edwards