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Why the Chinese economy is like... QPR

Charlie Austin of QPR (looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Rotherham United at Loftus Road on August 22, 2015 in London, England.
Jordan Mansfield | Getty ImagesGetty Images
Charlie Austin of QPR (looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Rotherham United at Loftus Road on August 22, 2015 in London, England.

One is an economic and military powerhouse the other is a west London soccer club relegated from the English Premier League last summer. Both though are on their road to recovery according to the club's owner and CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes.

In an interview with CNBC's Geoff Cutmore at the World Economic Forum meeting in Dalian China this week, Fernandes likened his club to the Chinese economy following Queen's Park Rangers' (QPR's) relegation to English soccer's second tier.

"I do feel, you know, just like your very first question on Mr, Premier Li (The Premier of China) that Queens Park Rangers on the road to recovery," Fernandes told CNBC.

Fernandes admits that since taking over Queens Park Rangers four years ago, he has made many mistakes. Buying players who didn't want to play for the club on huge wages QPR could probably make a good Harvard case study on how not to run a club.

But this, according to Fernandes, is in the past.

"You know, we've got good management in Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand. We brought in really good young solid players; our academy is developing very very fast, and we've managed to retain some of the stars," he said.

Having offloaded some of the club's highest earners over the summer, QPR have been looking for hungry, cheaper, players from the lower leagues while holding onto star striker Charlie Austin who hit 18 goals in an otherwise disappointing season for the club.

"Look we have a chance. But football is a, is a ball where anything can happen as you know. But we've given ourselves our best chance. It's, it's - you know when you ask me question on Air Asia, there's a lot of it I can do to influence it. But when you ask me about QPR, it's up to the eleven boys, and that 90 minutes, to perform what they're capable of."

Under previous management QPR fans used to sing "We want our Rangers back" but Fernandes is hopeful this will not be heard over the coming months.

"We've got great fans, you know, they've taken a lot of stick, both up and down, me as a chairman, we made a lot of mistakes, I think they, they feel the old QPR, they feel things are coming back," he said.

"Morale can change like this, with three points - you know, we won three on the trot, I can't remember the last time we won three on the trot. And that's the best tonic, nothing the chairman can say, makes up for three points on Saturday" said Fernandes ahead of Saturday's home game against Nottingham Forest.

Holding on to star striker Charlie Austin has been well received by fans and seen betting odds on QPR winning promotion back to the Premier league slashed. Fernandes though is realistic about the prospects of keeping the striker for the long term.

"Money talks, let's be real…If players are offered positions at Manchester United and Chelsea, you know: we've got many players, players have one career. You can't begrudge him of that," Fernandes said.

"But we'll try, it's not different from me, when I started AirAsia and our pilots were poached by Emirates and Qatar and - much bigger salaries, much more glamorous life, but they're all back, and you know most are happy and content where they are, and they enjoy the environment. So it's not always about money but let's be real. Money does play a part."

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