After listening to Amit Bhatia speak so openly to QPR Player yesterday, I could not wait to hear what he had to say today, in part 2 of his mega-interview. I was certainly enthralled.
The bulk of this part of the interview concentrated on the somewhat thorny issue of next year`s season ticket prices. I am sure all Rs` fans will be delighted to hear that, once again, Bhatia is willing to listen to fans` concerns regarding prices and is prepared to act on those concerns.
Last season, Bhatia championed our cause, when the Board proposed that matches be categorised and prices adjusted according to the category of match we were watching. This was subsequently scrapped thanks to Bhatia who had listened to fans` concern – written and oral – and had helped veto the idea at Board level. It was Bhatia himself who wrote the open letter which we all read on the website allaying our fears.
Now, Bhatia is turning once again to the fans. He has met with representatives of various groups involved with QPR and issued them with a challenge to find a way to resolve the pricing issue for next year fairly for all the parties concerned.
ut the challenge does include one proviso, a personal desire of Bhatia: “We fill Loftus Road every single time we have a home game.”
Bhatia went on to acknowledge that he realises that attendances depend on “how a club does in terms of performance on the pitch. But I believe we have a loyal fan base, that if we can make it competitive for them, affordable for them, to come and watch the games; that they will do so,”Bhatia continued.
Bhatia also admitted that there needed to be: “a better solution than exists and to find if that solution does exist. And if it does exist I will find it and I will make sure that we act upon it,” he vowed.
Fans` will know just how much of a listener Bhatia is. He reads all letters written to him and he tries “to take on board the bits that I think are important. And I know for a fact that people are concerned about season ticket prices. And I think that we can do something to help,” he acknowledged.
“It may not be necessarily just about the price,” Bhatia continued. “But we can somehow make it more affordable by re-introducing the Early Bird Special for a longer period of time; by seeing if we can help people finance their tickets.
“I want to look at every option so that when the decision is made it is a good decision, and it`s a strong decision and it`s a decision that is better than any previous decision,” Bhatia admitted somewhat intriguingly!
Bhatia seems to be sold on filling Loftus Road to the rafters so that we can all enjoy the match-day experience in a great atmosphere of enthusiastic and noisy support (well, I`ve added those adjectives personally – let the “boo-boys” stay away!!) Bhatia has met with internal staff at QPR, including the players and managerial staff, and has been left in no doubt that they all believe it is of the utmost importance that the crowd support the team on a match day (please note, that is my personal italics – as I, too, believe it is of paramount importance that we fans support our team!)
“It is a better experience for the fans to come to a packed house, for the players to play in a packed house, and for us to be able to see that we were able to do something that brought Loftus Road effectively to its rocking best. And I want that, I want it very badly. I want people to come. I want the whole QPR experience to be better,” Bhatia reiterated passionately.
Bhatia has issued a further challenge to the internal staff at Loftus Road – to make the whole viewing experience better (I think, well hope, that he means he`s spoken to the players and management because, quite frankly, what we`ve been watching on the pitch has been woefully short of entertainment at times this season!)
Bhatia concluded his thoughts – for today – by acknowledging the need to improve communication with the QPR fans. Bhatia has been involved in fan-group meetings, his business schedule permitting, so that he can get a sense of the fans` feelings at any given moment.
Tellingly, he observed: “I have learnt, over the past couple of years, that fans know much more about the football Club than I think sometimes owners have given them credit for in the past. And I most definitely learn from them when I meet them.”
In fact, some lucky, loyal fans who have held their season tickets for a long time, are to be invited to join Bhatia on a match day, “to sit in C Club and to watch from the Directors` Box. It gives me the opportunity to spend time with them, to understand people`s concerns, and hopefully it won`t always be about concerns but to learn something about the history of the Club,” he added.
“If we can better the communication then they can learn more from me about my hopes and aspirations for the Club and I can learn from them about their experiences with the Club in the past and about the history that this Club has. That`s something I think we need to work on, definitely.”
Ticketing and communication – two topics of great concern amongst Vitallers of course – although Bhatia did acknowledge, with a wry smile, that we fans do also bring to his attention our need for a new striker or even a left back!
What will he say tomorrow? I can`t wait to find that out!!
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