For three of four seasons between 2011 and 2015, QPR played in the Premier League, with one season in the Championship where they played and won back promotion to the top tier straight away. However, when the Hoops played in the top flight they could never stand their ground and remain in there.
Of their three recent years in the Premier League, two resulted in them finishing bottom of the table while in the other they finished 17th, just one place above the relegation zone. It is their inability to show they can play in the Premier League on a regular basis that has hurt them in the long term, and a reason why now they are a bottom half of the table Championship club, showing no signs of being able to get back into the Premier League anytime soon.
From a commercial point of view, the Premier League is the holy grail in football. Current shirt sponsors Royal Panda would love to see their team get back into the top tier for added exposure, while the club would gain a lot more from new sponsorship and TV deals to give them a big boost in funds.
The Bottleneck of Promotion from the Championship
One of the big reasons why QPR have struggled over the past few seasons is something that many teams struggle with. This is the league they are in, the Championship. The second tier of English football is regarded by many as the toughest league in the world to win promotion in.
Each year we see around half of the league hold genuine promotion claims, whether that is by winning the league or coming second to gain automatic promotion, or through the playoffs. If you are the worst of these teams then all of a sudden you will find yourself in mid-table, because those above you are simply better over the course of the season. Anyone who doesn’t hold genuine promotion claims will usually find themselves in the bottom half of the table unless they overachieve and some of the contenders underachieve.
By being in a league that is so competitive and has so many teams capable of being promoted from it, you not only have to be a high-quality team but you also need a bit of luck and a lot of consistency. In the past few years, we simply haven’t seen that from QPR, which has pushed them down to the kind of positions we have seen them finish over the past few years.
QPR and Their Fall to the Lower End of the Championship Table
When QPR returned to the Championship after relegation from the Premier League, they finished 12th which was a respectable finish, but it showed that the league held many teams who were stronger than them. Since then they have finished 18th, 16th and 19th in the league as they fall even further down the standings.
What we are seeing is other teams get better around them, and QPR remain at the same kind of level to what they have been for the past few years, and that simply won’t be good enough in a league like the Championship.
To have any kind of success in this league you always need to be finding ways to improve and make yourself better, and that is just to keep up with those around you, not to actually improve and move up the table. If you want to do that, especially up towards the top end of the table then you have to be even better, and bring in players that can turn the club around.
The Spending Power of the Championship
Something else we are seeing a lot of now is teams spending a lot of money in the Championship. This is something that QPR have traditionally not done, and another reason why they are dropping away from those competing at the top of the league. With the parachute payments from the Premier League, there are many teams in the Championship who have the ability to spend money if they wish, and when they do that, generally teams improve.
QPR may be able to keep up with them from time to time, but if that money is spent wisely by everyone else, over the course of a season it is going to show in the final table.
With a lack of spending power and already being behind the top eight, ten or maybe even 12 clubs in the division, the future doesn’t look too great for QPR. Their slow demise over the past decade, including when in the Premier League, has resulted in them being in this position and it could well be a long time before we see them in the top flight of English football again.