|Full name||Loftus Road Stadium|
|Location||South Africa Road,
|Owner||Queens Park Rangers Football & Athletic Club Ltd|
|Record attendance||35,353 (QPR vs Leeds United, 27 April 1974)|
|Field dimensions||112 by 72 yards (102 by 66 m)|
|Public transit access||White City, London Underground|
|Shepherd's Bush F.C. (1904–1915)
Queens Park Rangers F.C. (1917–31, 1933–62, 1963–present)
London Wasps (Guinness Premiership) (1996–2002)
Fulham F.C. (2002–2004)
Loftus Road is a football stadium located in Shepherd's Bush, London. It was originally the home stadium of Shepherd's Bush F.C., but became home to its most famous club for the first time in 1917 when English football team Queens Park Rangers moved in for the first of its three periods at the stadium. In 1981 the ground became the first stadium in British professional football to have an artificial pitch of Omniturf installed, which remained until 1988. The four stands are the Loftus Road End (often shortened to The Loft), Ellerslie Road Stand, South Africa Road Stand and the School End, which is used by away supporters.
Rugby union team London Wasps shared the ground with QPR between 1996 until Premier League side Fulham replaced them in 2002, when Fulham's Craven Cottage was closed for reconstruction. Other occasional users of the stadium have included the Jamaican and Australian national football teams, and in 1985 the stadium saw Barry McGuigan defeat Eusebio Pedroza for the World Boxing Association featherweight championship.
The ground was first used on 11 October 1904 by Shepherd's Bush F.C., an amateur side that was disbanded during the First World War. QPR moved to Loftus Road in 1917, having had their ground at Park Royal commandeered by the army in 1915. At that time the ground was an open field with a pavilion. One stand from Park Royal was dismantled and re-erected forming the Ellerslie Road stand in 1919. This stand remained as the only covered seating in the ground until 1968 and was replaced in 1972. It had a capacity of 2,950.
QPR moved out of Loftus Road at the start of the 1931–32 season, moving nearby to White City Stadium, but after a loss of £7,000, the team moved back. In 1938 a new covered terrace for 6,000 spectators was constructed by a company called Framed Structures Ltd at the Loftus Road end taking the capacity up to 30,000. It cost £7,000 (with £1,500 donated by the QPR Supporters Club) and was opened by the Rt Hon Herbert Morrison, the leading Labour MP and future war time Home Secretary, at the match vs Crystal Palace on 29 October. The section of the terracing that was covered was concreted at this time with the uncovered section later concreted in 1945.
In April 1948, after winning the Third Division (South) championship, the club bought the freehold of the stadium plus 39 houses in Loftus Road and Ellerslie Road for £26,250. When the club's finances were under pressure in the late 1950s the houses had to be sold. On 5 October 1953 floodlights were used at Loftus Road for the first time for a friendly game against Arsenal. In the summer of 1966 the original floodlights were replaced by much taller floodlight pylons. In the summer of 1980 these in turn were replaced with the current floodlights.
QPR experimented once again with a move to White City Stadium in the 1962–63 season, but moved back to Loftus Road once more after only a single season. In the summer of 1968 the South Africa Road stand was constructed at a cost of £150,000 to replace the old open terracing. In 1972 a new stand was completed in Ellerslie Road, replacing the tin-roofed grandstand, and first used in the match versus Oxford United on 2 December 1972. The changing rooms and offices were moved to South Africa Road and the television gantry moved in the other direction.
The stadium's highest recorded attendance of 35,353 was in a game against Leeds United on 27 April 1974. The following summer the paddock of the South Africa Road stand was converted from terracing to seating with the installation of 4,600 seats, thus lowering the capacity of the stadium to the 31,002 present for the last home match of the 1975/6 season against Leeds United on 24 April 1976.
During the summer of 1981 an artificial pitch of Omniturf was installed at Loftus Road, the first such surface to be used in British professional football. The surface was not favoured by everyone, with QPR keeper Peter Hucker describing it as "basically a bit of carpet over two feet of concrete", and stated that as a goalkeeper, he strongly disliked diving onto it saying that "I'd have close to third degree burns because the pitch would totally rip the skin off." Rangers lost the first league match played on the new surface 1-2 versus Luton Town on 1 September 1981. During the time that Loftus Road had the Omniturf pitch installed, QPR reached two cup finals and became Second Division champions, something that critics claimed was caused by the advantage the pitch presented, and QPR's home games in the 1984–85 UEFA Cup were played at Arsenal's Highbury Stadium. It was claimed that manager Terry Venables would let opposition teams train on the pitch when it was dry, and then deliberately dampen the pitch so that the ball played differently to what they expected at kick off. It was removed in April 1988 because of football legislation and replaced with grass. There were just three other league stadiums in the whole country with a plastic pitch, and by 1994 all of these had been ripped up.
New stands were opened at the School End in the summer of 1980 and one year later at the Loftus Road end. At the same time as the Loftus Road stand was built executive boxes were installed in the lower tier of the South Africa Road stand and the artificial pitch laid. The stadium capacity at this time was 27,000 and it was one of the most modern and advanced stadiums in Britain having been completely reconstructed over the 13-year period from 1968 to 1981. In the summer of 1994 the Loftus Road ground became an all-seater stadium with the construction of seating in the lower Loftus Road stand. The last match where home spectators were able to watch the match from terracing was on 16 April 1994 against Everton.
The owning company, also called Loftus Road, of QPR, London Wasps and the stadium itself, went into the red in the late 1990s only a couple of seasons after it was formed in 1996. In 2001, there were concerns that Queens Park Rangers and the stadium would need to be sold separately when the club went into administration. There was interest from commercial buyers and housing developers. A supporter's trust was set up to keep the club at Loftus Road, and to fight the suggested move out of the stadium and to Milton Keynes. One further suggestion was a merger between QPR and fellow London club Wimbledon, with the newly merged club playing at Loftus Road, but this idea was abandoned following the response from supporters. A £1 million payment by QPR's long time local rivals Fulham in 2002 helped to alleviate the financial problems in return for a ground sharing agreement while Craven Cottage was developed.
Loftus Road briefly became home to non-league football club Yeading as they faced Premiership club Newcastle United in the third round of the 2005 FA Cup. The decision was made as Yeading felt that their home stadium could not suitably segregate the fans. Despite holding out for fifty minutes, Yeading went on to lose the match 2–0.
Following a number of years of uncertainty as to whether the club would expand the capacity of the stadium or relocate to a new site in the event of a return to the Premier League, it was announced by chairman Tony Fernandes on 28 November 2011 that the club was investigating the possibility of relocating to a new site in West London in order to build a bigger stadium. The current capacity of the stadium is 18,439.
This is not the first time that an owner has suggested moving out of Loftus Road, with director Antonio Caliendo suggesting a location near BBC Television Centre as a potential site for a new shopping and leisure development in March 2006, and then QPR manager Luigi De Canio suggesting in 2008 that the team needs to leave the stadium in order to fulfil its ambitions.
Structures and facilities
Loftus Road has a capacity of 18,439. Because of the size of the stadium, supporters find themselves close to the pitch compared to other stadiums. All four of the modern stands meet with no gaps, giving an overall impression of a tightly enclosed stadium. The School End is the stand reserved for away supporters, and all the stands have two tiers with the exception of the Ellerslie Road Stand.
The South Africa Road stand is the biggest of the four stands at the stadium. It is a two tier stand which includes The Paddocks and contains a row of boxes separating The Paddocks and the upper tier. It also houses the dugouts, changing rooms, suites, tunnel, offices, club shop, box office and press conference rooms. The Paddocks area is the cheapest in the ground, whereas the upper tier is the most expensive. The new exclusive W12 and C Clubs are located here.
The Loft is a two tier stand built in 1981 behind the goal and traditionally where most members and season ticket holders sit. This is the third most expensive stand to sit in. QPR generally attack this end in the second half because it is believed to be good luck. The police crowd observation box is located in this stand and it is home to the members' bar in the ground, The Blue and White Bar. A new colour scoreboard is located at this end, installed in Summer 2008, on the advertising boards between the upper and lower tiers.
The Ellerslie Road stand, rebuilt in 1972, is constantly renamed and sponsored, but QPR fans refer to it as the Ellerslie Road Stand. It is a single tiered stand and is the smallest in height, but not in noise and capacity. It is also the only stand not to be painted in blue and white hoops, instead it has "QPR" painted across it. It is home to the famous "R Block" where, along with the Loft's Q and P blocks sit QPR's partisan following. Most of the noise is generated from this stand, in addition to the Loft. This stand is a favourite of the fans because of the view and atmosphere. This is the second most expensive stand. It is also home to the commentary and television camera gantry.
At the west end of the ground is the School End built in 1980. 1,700 visiting supporters can be accommodated in the 'The School End' upper tier; 1,300 additional lower tier seats are also allocated to visitors if demand is high enough. A new big screen was erected on the roof of the School End in the summer of 2008 which shows match highlights during the game plus adverts. This joined a new colour scoreboard which is located on the advertising boards between the middle and lower tiers.
Loftus Road was home to professional rugby union team London Wasps from September 1996 to the end of the 2001–02 season, having moved from their home in Sudbury, Middlesex, as part of the deal in which Chris Wright took control of both Wasps and QPR. Wasps won the English Premiership in their first season at Loftus Road. It was part of a 7-year ground share deal negotiated by Chris Wright who had just bought Wasps as rugby union became professional. Wasps agreed to move out, to Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park ground, at the end of the 2001–02 season to allow Fulham F.C. to rent for 2 seasons between 2002 and 2004, while their ground, Craven Cottage, was redeveloped. It was Fulham's preferred temporary ground, with the other suggested alternative being West Ham's Upton Park. It was open for Wasps to return, but Wasps decided not to move back after Fulham left. It has also been used to host the final of the British Universities and Colleges Sport football tournaments.
The venue has also been used to host boxing in the past, with one of the most notable bouts being between Irishman Barry McGuigan and Panamanian Eusebio Pedroza on 8 June 1985 for the WBA featherweight championship in front of 27,000 spectators. The stadium was transformed into a little bit of Ireland for the evening, with the Ireland's Saturday Night on sale, and man dressed as a leprechaun dancing around the ring before the main event. McGuigan won the bout on a points decision after 15 rounds, Pedroza had previously defended his title in nineteen bouts, and Ireland had not had a boxing world champion for 35 years.
Loftus Road has hosted England B internationals and was the first 'neutral' venue to capitalise on hosting international friendlies not involving England. In addition, in 2004, as part of the Gillette Tri-Nations rugby league competition, New Zealand lost against Australia 32–16. In 2005, Great Britain lost to New Zealand at the stadium in the same competition, 26–42.
A testimonial match for Simon Barker saw QPR lose to the Jamaican national team by 2–1 in May 1998, with the national team returning to Loftus Road in 2002 to play Nigeria where they lost 1–0. Israel requested to play their Euro 2004 qualifying match against Cyprus as UEFA had banned Israel from hosting home games on its own territory due to security concerns. The application was rejected as there were already five scheduled matches over the course of thirteen days as it was during the time that QPR were sharing Loftus Road with Fulham. QPR themselves played the Iranian national team in a pre-season friendly on 23 July 2005. On 14 November 2006, Australia drew 1–1 with Ghana in an international friendly at the ground. In 2007 Denmark won 3–1 against Australia at Loftus Road. In 2008, Australia played another friendly at Loftus Road against South Africa, the match ended 2–2. South Korea won 2–0 against Côte d'Ivoire at Loftus Road on 3 March 2010.
List of international matches
|1992||Football||England B||3–0||France B|||
|2004||Rugby League||Australia||32–16||New Zealand|||
|2005||Rugby League||New Zealand||42–26||Great Britain|||
|2006||Football||Trinidad and Tobago||2–0||Iceland|||
|2010||Football||South Korea||2–0||Côte d'Ivoire|||
There are several London Underground stations near the stadium, the closest being White City, which is on the Central line, about five minutes walk away from the stadium. A further two minutes walk away is Wood Lane on the Hammersmith & City line. Shepherd's Bush Market is also on the Hammersmith & City line,Other nearby stations include those at Shepherd's Bush on the Central line, and Shepherd's Bush which operations trains on the London Overground and Southern networks. The Underground stations have even previously been a method for opposing teams to arrive, with Coventry City's players arriving for a match via the tube station at Shepherd's Bush in 2008 after their coach got stuck in traffic.
A number of London Bus routes run near the stadium. From South Africa Road to the north, the 228 runs in both directions, terminating at Maida Hill and Central Middlesex Hospital. On the same road, the 283 runs through to East Acton, and although it doesn't stop when running in the other direction on South Africa Road, it does stop on the adjacent Bloemfontein Road. Other buses nearby are the 260, 207 and 607, each of which run down the Uxbridge Road.
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