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Why QPR Showcase Everything That Is Wrong With Football's Finances

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Queens Park Rangers are a lucky, lucky club.

Harry Redknapp's side sealed promotion back to the Premier League in the Playoff Final despite being down to 10 men and having been outplayed for much of the game, Bobby Zamora's 90th minute goal taking them up.

But their luck doesn't start and end with a last minute goal taking them up. That Zamora goal saved the hides - for now - of a club facing some serious financial problems.

Rewind to last time QPR were in the Premier League. Owner Tony Fernandes sanctioned constant spending for Mark Hughes and then Harry Redknapp - money which constant sell-outs of the club's 18,000 seater stadium couldn't hope to earn back.

In their relegation season of 2012/13, the club lost £65m. To put that in context, if QPR had doubled their entire turnover for the season, they'd still have come out of the season having made a loss. Not even notorious overspenders Manchester City and Chelsea made losses of that size that season.

So, having lost out on around £40m in TV revenue as a result of their relegation, the club obviously slashed their wage budget, with players leaving left, right and centre over the next season. Right?

Well not so much. This is where the story of the badly mismanaged club starts to get worrying.

Taking loans out of the equation for a minute, QPR have sold 11 players since their relegation, which is a fairly healthy number for a recently relegated club. However, they've also brought in nine new players, including former Chelsea player Yossi Benayoun, snatched on a free from under the noses of Malaga.

They also loaned out a handful of first team players, but then went straight ahead and brought in eight new first team players on loan deals.

So, they haven't cut the wage bill by much. They haven't made a great deal of money from selling players (the majority left on free transfers). How did they afford to stay afloat this season?

It's simple - the promise of Premier League football. Promotion and the £60m plus windfall in TV money that comes with it will keep almost any club going. The problem is, QPR's management were treating it as a certainty rather than a possibility.

This is where the problem with the QPR model lies. Harry Redknapp and Tony Fernandes have, again, thrown money at a squad to solve a problem and completely ignored the long-term implications. If QPR had failed to go up this year, they'd be staring down the barrel of a massive loss, as well as a transfer embargo for breaching FFP rules.

Had they stayed in the Championship next season, as they were so close to doing, it's not hard to imagine them going the same way as clubs like Portsmouth, sliding down the leagues, dragged down by obscene amounts of debt and bad planning.

Now that QPR have escaped that fate, it appears that they're taking steps to learn from their mistakes, signing only young players up from the lower leagues and promoting youth players. Wait, that's not right. Actually, they're reportedly getting ready to offer a pair of 35-year-olds - Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard - big money deals to add 'experience' to the squad.

It's not hard to see QPR's future from here. They'll yoyo between the Premier League and Championship for a few years before either getting a manager/chairman combination who work hard to make the club sustainable again, or they'll fail to bounce straight back up to the top flight one season and crash down through the leagues as they're forced to sell about 70% of their squad.

If that happens and QPR are held up as an example of what not to do, then at least lessons can be learned. But at the moment, they're a success. They threw a massive, unsustainable amount of money at their players and succeeded. Clubs who try to follow surely won't. After all, if four Championship clubs splash the cash this summer, at least one will be left languishing in the Championship with a massive squad and debts.

The only hope is that sensible owners will realise the futility of that approach and invest wisely, instead of looking at a club who spend £40m and thinking that the only way to beat them is to outspend them. The only things that lie down that road are brief success, then crashing failure and a club that ends up worse than it started.

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