Stephen Cowan will 'bend over backwards' to help club
Picture: Linda Gregory
The leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has pledged to “bend over backwards” for QPR, and hinted the club should lease a £40 million new stadium the council hopes to build.
Councillor Stephen Cowan also expressed doubts that the White City-based side could single=handedly finance building a new stadium.
His remarks came after the council published the results of a major survey on people's views about what should be done with the Linford Christie athletics centre next to Wormwood Scrubs.
Nearly 8,800 people took part in the exercise, and the results showed 81% believe the Linford Christie should undergo “major development”, while 77% of people said any new stadium should be used for professional sports.
QPR were not explicitly mentioned in the survey questions, but the idea of the club leaving its 104-year-old Loftus Road ground has long been touted.
At a town hall meeting on Monday, July 1, Mr Cowan said: “I can confirm that, just as we have with Chelsea and Fulham, we will bend over backwards to help QPR.”
But the Labour politician seemed unconvinced the club could buy the Linford Christie site from the council. He suggested the club's requirement to raise £20 million to fund the construction of its new training ground in Southall was evidence it may not be able to build its own stadium.
Mr Cowan added, “When we met QPR I asked about the Warren Farm site… The way that's being funded is QPR is hoping to raise a bond to raise £20 million.
“We asked therefore how would you raise money to buy the Linford Christie site and then build the stadium. I think we are still in need of some clarity about how QPR would do that if they're not able to directly fund the Warren Farm site.
“After nearly 10 years of austerity we cannot gift The Linford Christie stadium, and that includes QPR's current owners.
“So that is one of the issues, but we are very keen to help QPR but we want to know about any financing of the Linford Christie site.”
Responding to the comments, QPR's chief executive Lee Hoos said: “We want to work closely with Stephen Cowan and Hammersmith and Fulham Council to ensure that QPR can find a new stadium that keeps us in the borough for the long term.
“QPR has not asked for anything from the council for free, nor do we intend to. But we look forward to sitting down with them to discuss the future of the Linford Christie site, including how a new QPR stadium with community sport facilities could be financed.”
A council officer who also spoke at Monday's meeting then suggested QPR could bid for a lease by “partnering up” with another organisation or company to jointly lease the new stadium.
The council previously said its preferred option for a new stadium at Wormwood Scrubs would be 45,000-seats and suitable for events including “concerts, trade shows, exhibitions,” as well as “capacity for football and other sports provision”.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
July 3, 2019