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Friday, November 23, 2012
Redknapp to open QPR talks

Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Harry Redknapp is to open talks over filling the managerial vacancy at Queens Park Rangers following the sacking of Mark Hughes.

• Blog: Reflection on Hughes'; tenure
• Palmer: An overdue sacking

A spokesman for the former Tottenham Hotspur boss confirmed on Friday afternoon that "talks will be beginning shortly".

ESPN understands that Redknapp plans to be at Old Trafford on Saturday for QPR's trip to face Manchester United, although with Hughes' former assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki taking caretaker charge for that match he is unlikely to begin work in an official capacity until after the game.

Hughes was sacked on Friday morning leaving the club without a victory after 12 games of the season, having only survived relegation on the final day of last term.

The Welshman was axed just hours before a scheduled QPR pre-match media conference, with chairman Tony Fernandes giving the go-ahead for his dismissal while still on business in Asia.

Redknapp's agent Paul Stretford had travelled to Ukraine earlier in the week to discuss an offer of taking over the national team, but at the same time made it clear to QPR that Redknapp's preference was for the post much closer to home. Fernandes acted before Redknapp changed his mind and took the lucrative offer abroad.

Last month ESPN reported that QPR';s richest benefactor Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's wealthiest person, was reviewing his position at QPR in the light of the current crisis and that Mittal might even be ready to consider selling his one-third share in the Premier League club before Christmas.

While Fernandes, who heads the three-strong consortium with a 66% stake, persisted in backing Hughes, support in the boardroom had waned rapidly with access to the high revenues that come with Premier League football at stake and with a new, record-breaking television deal imminent, QPR simply cannot afford to get relegated.

The club is believed to be losing as much as 5 million a month, according to ESPN sources, due in no small part to the huge wage bill caused by the glut of Hughes' new signings. QPR rely on the support from vice-chairman Amit Bhatia, who looks after the 34% holding owned by his steel magnate father-in-law Mittal.

It has already been suggested that the Mittal family had an option to withdraw their backing in the close season having considered selling their shareholding a year earlier. "We had the conversation when things got very difficult," Bhatia said.




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