His takeover was welcomed, but the bubble has been bursting since. Anthony Hobbs takes a deeper look at QPR's chairman Chris Wright
Distinguishing FeaturesLooks a bit like a hippy version of Roger DeCourcey (of Nookie Bear fame), or Richard Branson’s unkempt, chubbier brother. Has the facial expression of someone who may have inhaled during the Sixties. Allegedly.
Habitat According to the Sunday Times Rich List, his pile of banknotes is about £75 million high these days. He started collecting cash in 1968 as founder of Chrysalis Records, bringing us the delights of Blondie and Jethro Tull. After selling the record company, he branched out into other media activities and is now chairman of Chrysalis Group plc. Their production credits include Football Italia, Heart FM and Galaxy Radio. They are also responsible for the release of Sir Cliff Richard’s Millennium Prayer.
What use is he? He took over in 1996 after buying the club from the spectacularly unpopular Thompson family. Initially, he handed a couple of carrier bags full of cash to his managers to help strengthen our recently relegated squad. Unfortunately, they elected to squander it on overpriced and underperforming strikers, so he decided to stuff his wedge back under the mattress, where it has remained ever since. Wright is widely regarded as having made a number of poor business decisions since he took charge, but at least he seems prepared to own up to them, which is a vast improvement on his predecessors.
Who remembers his birthday? Wright has a slightly odd relationship with Rangers supporters. Most are grateful to him simply for having purchased the club, thereby saving us from the Thompsons. This alone is enough to guarantee his popularity with many. However, there have been plenty of mutterings of discontent about some of his subsequent decisions. The steady improvement of the team since Gerry Francis took over as manager should be enough to put him back in the good books for a while – at least until he blows it by pushing ahead with plans for a new ground away from Shepherd’s Bush, which the bulk of supporters regard with scepticism to say the least.
Quote unquote On rumours that the Thompsons were interested in buying back into QPR: “If I sold the club back to the Thompsons, I’d be the most unpopular man in west London. The second most unpopular man would be Richard Thompson.”
Other offences to be taken into consideration Wright is responsible for QPR joining forces with the egg-chasers of Wasps, with the result that the White City Estate is taken over by barbour-clad hordes every other Sunday. The rugby deal, following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of the likes of Sir John Hall, was part of the creation of Loftus Road plc. Their shares are currently trading at around 15p each – about half the price of a tube of smarties.
From WSC 164 October 2000. What was happening this month