QPR’s long wait for a state-of-the-art training ground will finally come to an end later this month when a new building is opened at the facility in Heston.
More than 150 contractors are currently putting the finishing touches to the interior of the 45,000 square foot construction that will house the club’s first-team squad and academy when the players report back on June 22 for pre-season testing.
Former QPR manager and captain Gerry Francis will officially open the new building on June 21 alongside former players who have progressed from the youth system, including Paul Goddard, Wayne Fereday, Richard Langley and Kevin Gallen, to mark a momentous day for the club.
It ends an 11-year quest that began with plans for Warren Farm in Southall in conjunction with Ealing Council that were beset by legal challenges from local residents.
Rangers finally pulled the plug on the project after permission was granted for a further judicial review – and the freehold for a 27-acre site near Heathrow Airport became available from Imperial College.
Category One now possible
With the club’s academy already housed at the site, QPR completed the purchase in December 2020 and demolition work finally began in February 2022.
In addition to the £20m complex, seven new pitches – one with under-soil heating – have been laid.
Five of those are Desso pitches – the surface used at Loftus Road – at a cost of £2m each.
A domed indoor sports hall is likely to be completed within the next two years, with the club now having the space to upgrade to a Category One academy in the future.
The academy will continue to use the dome at the adjacent Cranford Community School in the meantime.
More than 150 contractors are working seven days a week to complete the project. A glass-fronted canteen will be a feature of the upper floor. (Photos: Matt Ogborn)
QPR’s property financial controller Jason Cham (left) and head of operations Josh Scott show West London Sport’s Ian McCullough what will be the first-team dressing room (Photos: Matt Ogborn)
The first team and academy canteens will house fully operational kitchens
This will eventually become a boardroom at the training ground
Cham has led the project alongside Scott
This floor will house the first-team offices, boardroom and video analysis suites
The 45,000 square foot construction is more than double the size of the Harlington training ground the club used from 2005 until 2022
Landscaping at the front of the building will be completed when the building opens on June 21
QPR hope the site’s close proximity to Heathrow will interest European clubs wanting to train
In addition to the hydrotherapy pool, the wet room also features a plunge pool
A high-end hydrotherapy pool was flown in from the USA
The front entrance to the new complex will feature the club crest above the door when the building is signed off later this month.
The landscaping of a driveway from the front of the site is due to be completed before the end of the year, with a maintenance building to house the ground staff and machinery due to be erected in the coming months.
The project has been led by Rangers’ property financial controller Jason Cham, who says he was able to use some of the plans already in place for Warren Farm during the design of the new building – and that input from players and staff has been crucial.
“Most buildings are rectangular, so we took what we had planned to do at Warren Farm with the floor plan here and tapered it to the current team,” Cham said.
“But it was important to speak to players about the little things and ask them, for example, ‘This is where the gym is, do you think it is the best place?’ I wanted to bring everyone on the journey.
“We have some staff here who used to work for Tottenham so were able to get their input.
“We also visited Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Reading as well and saw what was unique to them and worked out what was best for us.
“But this is uniquely modelled to what we need.”
The main building itself is more than double the size of what the club had at Harlington, which was their training base for 17 years.
It is also the first time the club have had sole ownership of their own training complex.
The British Gas Sports Ground in Acton was purchased by Loftus Road PLC in 1999 for shared use by Wasps rugby club and QPR, before being sold to former owner Chris Wright when Rangers went into administration in 2001.
The new complex will be split into two sides for the first team and the academy, with both having their own dining, recreation rooms and medical areas, and there will be on-site parking for more than 200 vehicles.
A huge gym will dominate the ground-floor area, with the medical team having access to hydrotherapy and plunge pools in addition to larger treatment and massage rooms.
Upstairs, a large glass-fronted first-team canteen overlooks the pitches, with a recreation room adjoining a dining room and kitchen area.
Funding for the project has come from the club’s owners and a bond scheme taken up by 1500 investors, which raised £6.8m towards the cost.
QPR could host European giants
QPR head of operations Josh Scott says the training ground will see the club boast one of the best facilities in London and could be a potential source of revenue from European teams needing a training venue in the capital.
“For a Championship club to have the facilities that we will have in a month’s time will far exceed anything I have seen,” Scott said.
“When you talk about the new training grounds that have come on board recently, Bristol City is probably a good comparison and they had significant land to build on, but we are up there in terms of investment.
“But this will be better than some of the training grounds in the Premier League and that speaks volumes for the board and the investment that has been put into this.
“I found out the other day that PSG used here when it was a university facility, so advertising this to other teams is another potential income stream for us to think about.
“If a Barcelona or Real Madrid are coming over to play in London, and with it being so close to Heathrow, it could be a big attraction.”
Conversations with other clubs were key to some of the decisions around the project.
“This has been three years of work and over 10 years of planning,” Scott explained.
“It’s about learning from other clubs. Even the bigger clubs think they could have done something differently.
“The lay-out, where the rooms are, the facilities you put in – you take a bit from everywhere.
“One thing we have learned from other clubs is the ground staff can sometimes be forgotten about and pushed over in the corner.
“So, if for example, the manager wants to speak to the groundsman before training, they may have to spend more than five minutes coming from across the site.
“We will be building a maintenance building close to the main pitches but that can’t go up until the landscaping is finished by the end of this year. So there is another whole building still to go up.”
A wall of honour recognising players who have represented the club’s academy before playing in the first team will be among the features inside the new building.
Work will continue long after the players have moved in.
“It is important for QPR fans to realise that this is not one and done and the investment stops here,” Scott said.
“There are additional phases to come on board but we will be working here for several more months to complete the landscaping to make sure the site looks presentable to guests coming in.
“Then there is the indoor hall, additional pitches, it continues for several years now.
“That will require further investment funding so the investors will have to put more money in. But the focus is to get this on board then we can sit down and discuss the next few years.”