'Consensus' that time is coming to bid farewell to Loftus Road
Fears of a ‘long-term decline’ at Queens Park Rangers’ stadium means the football club should find a new home at the Linford Christie athletics centre, fans say.
Talk of a future move was triggered again when Hammersmith & Fulham council announced a public consultation on what to do with the athletics site. Many QPR supporters also agree the 104-year-old Loftus Road ground in White City, less than a mile away, needs replacing.
And the club itself has already said the only “sustainable” option for the club is to move out of the 18,450-seat stadium.
Jeremy Gardner, vice chair of the supporters group QPR1st, said there is a consensus among its 1,000 members that a 30,000-seat stadium on the Linford Christie centre in Wormwood Scrubs park would most benefit the club.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “A plan needs to be sorted soon because there is obviously fear of a long-term decline at Loftus Road. There’s concern.
“Loftus Road is a good place to watch football. You’re close to the pitch and you get a good atmosphere, but it’s pretty out of date. Leg room is limited. It’s just not a modern stadium.
“And from the club’s point of view, the upkeep is expensive and a new stadium would give them opportunities to hire out conference rooms and give them new revenue streams.
“We would have regrets about leaving Loftus Road, but realistically it would be better for the club. The athletics centre is also deteriorating. It’s in very poor nick and it’s been suggested that new athletics facilities could be built beside a new stadium.”
QPR have repeatedly suggested becoming tenants of a new stadium that would replace the athletics centre, named after the 100m Olympic gold medalist and which is owned by the Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust, with the council as its sole trustee. But the council’s consultation makes no explicit reference to the club having a place there.
It instead lays out three main options.
They are to do nothing; to refurbish the athletics centre; or to develop a “larger multi-purpose venue” at a cost of up to £400 millon.
The council suggests the latter option could mean a new arena with upto 45,000. It says the new stadium could be made suitable for events such as “concerts, trade shows, exhibitions”, as well as “capacity for football and other sports provision”.
Retired Mr Gardner, 65, said, “30,000 capacity is what fans think would be suitable. 40,000 would be much too much.
“Linford Christie would be like a mini version of the London Stadium, because like West Ham we would be leaseholders, rather than owning the site. Some fans feel that wouldn’t leave us with financial security.
“I feel the council is dipping its toe in the water for now and seeing what would be acceptable to local residents.”
Mr Gardner added that convincing local people to support the redevelopment, and the inevitable changes to Wormwood Scrubs park, would be the “biggest challenge”. “Generally people who have fears about a stadium being near them, they’re pretty unfounded.”
A QPR spokesman said the club urges all fans, locals and stakeholders to take part in the consultation.
“If the club is to be sustainable we have to move,” said the spokesman. “And, as far as we can see, QPR’s involvement in the future of the Linford Christie Stadium is the only option that would keep us in W12 in the medium to long term. That is why we hope to see a 30,000-seater community stadium at the site that could provide a new long term home for QPR and also be utilised for community use.”
Hammersmith and Fulham were approached for comment.
The council’s consultation ends on June 12. Visit to write a response.
Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter
April 9, 2019