"It cost me £50m to realise football is immoral" - QPR owner Tony Fernandes hits out at Premier League

When Tony Fernandes bought Queens Park Rangers in August 2011, he wanted to turn the club into one of the biggest in the Premier League.

Instead, Rangers’ top-flight dreams descended into disaster, with their relegation confirmed last weekend.

Excerpt of Sportsmail's interview with Fernandes.

How do you feel five days after QPR’s relegation was confirmed?
‘It was over long before Reading as far as I was concerned. You learn from the past, and unfortunately you can only learn the hardest way. I’ve not spent as much time on QPR as I have done this week. We’ve been focusing on the new training ground, the new stadium and obviously the squad.

There will be a big difference between identifying who you want to sell and actually selling them?
‘I sat down with Harry and went through each player. We had said to each other, “This is going to be tough”. But when we went through it player by player we said, “Actually, it’s not that difficult if we want to let these players go”. Football does not revolve around England. There is a market for many of these players in many different parts of the world.’

Can you tell us the players you want to keep?‘No. But the team wasn’t balanced. It’s pretty clear that we missed someone in the midfield. We missed Joey Barton. The team was better with Joey in it last year. We missed a real leader. We tried to get Michael Dawson, we tried to get Scott Parker.’

Will Joey be back?
‘That’s up to him. He can play a role for QPR. He did so for Newcastle (when they went down).’

But how can you let somebody so disrespectful come back?
‘Would you pay him to play in Marseille?’

Why don’t you get rid of him?

Pay him up?
‘I’m not going to do that.’

It’s been suggested there is a split in the squad because the players you did sign earn more than the players who were already here . . .
‘The majority of the squad are on Premier League wages. Maybe two or three came up from the Championship, but even they were given new contracts. No one stayed at QPR who didn’t have a new contract. They didn’t have to sign if they felt there was unequal pay or they could earn more somewhere else. Problems in the dressing room start when you don’t win.’

But the issue is crystallised when big earners are accused of not trying?
‘I’m not hiding that fact. Passion comes naturally to me. If I was a player I’d go out every week and give it 150 per cent. I don’t know if every player in the Premier League feels hurt when they lose a game. I think I was naive in thinking that everyone was like me. You have a one-hour discussion with a player and you think, “Yes, he’s going to go out there and die for the club”, because that’s what I would do. ’

So you feel exploited?
‘I don’t think I will be exploited any more. I think I allowed myself to be exploited, but that’s my choice. Agents and players are trying to get the best contracts. I’m not going to be taken for a ride any more.’

Was paying top wages a means to an end?
‘Yes, there’s no two ways about it. It wasn’t easy persuading Jose Bosingwa to come to QPR. It wasn’t easy convincing Brazil’s No 1 goalkeeper [Julio Cesar] to come from Inter Milan. It’s ironic that I’m being hammered for wages, because I’m one of the guys who wants financial fair play. During the recent vote, a lot of clubs rang me up to say vote against it. I said I may be getting relegated but it is the right thing to do.’

How much have you spent on QPR?
‘I don’t actually know, but it would be around the £50million mark.’

Have you been shocked by football?
‘Yes. I’ve seen all the parts that make football quite immoral. Maybe that’s a strong word but they would sell their grandmother to do something. But you learn. I think the airline business is as tough, and the music business. I’ve been pretty successful in both. Was I successful in year one in the airline business?

'No. Do you have to be a tough bastard in the airline business? Probably, yes. But I don’t necessarily think I have to be an a****** to be successful in football. I have to be smarter. Nobody can train you for relegation, or for a player who refuses to play because he is substituted. You learn.’