Queens Park Rangers (QPR) had shown a desire to be part of the I-League by bidding for a franchisee floated by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). However, given that they would need a minimum of six months to set up the operations, they failed to make the cut but will have another shot come next season.
The final date of submission of the bids was 15th May, but the AIFF extended the deadline to 27th May after Tony Fernandes, the QPR chairman and Group CEO of Air Asia, got in touch with the AIFF president Praful Patel, who was also the former Civil Aviation Minister of India, to express his interest.
It must be noted that Southeast Asia’s biggest low-cost airline, Tata Sons Ltd and Arun Bhatia have joined hands to kickstart AirAsia India with Chennai as its base, with the stake being 49%, 30% and 21%, respectively. Arun Bhatia’s son, Amit Bhatia, is married to Lakshmi Mittal’s daughter and currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of QPR.
“QPR submitted the bid. It’s a huge thing that a club like QPR has shown so much interest to be part of the I-League. But the good thing about QPR and we have to compliment them is on the fact that they said that they don’t want to rush into it because they have a pedigree and a standard to maintain,” Sunando Dhar, the CEO of the I-League, told Goal.
The Emergency Committee of the AIFF, which met on Monday at Mr.Patel’s office in New Delhi were pleased with the fact that an English team is keen to enter the Indian market. Philip Beard, CEO of QPR, was also said to be in touch with the AIFF officials.
“They said that we just don’t want to throw the hat into the ring like that. They want to set the base up, put their house in order and only then replicate whatever they have done in England, in India because they don’t want to compromise on that. They said that they require at least five to six months to do it. So ideally (they said) we would want to participate from the 2014-15 season onward which the Committee appreciated. It would be good for Indian football and everyone if QPR in all its might come and join the league in the next season,” Dhar stated.