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Oct 2, 2012

Mittal 'reviewing position at QPR'

QPR benefactor Lakshmi Mittal, Britian's wealthiest man, is reviewing his position at Loftus Road, sources have told ESPN.

• Brewin: QPR's identity crisis
• Fernandes still believes in Hughes
• Blog: Hughes defenceless

It is believed the steel magnate could be ready to consider selling his one-third share in the Premier League club before Christmas.

Chairman Tony Fernandes heads the three-strong consortium in charge of Rangers with a 66% stake. He spent Monday night tweeting a defence of under-pressure manager Mark Hughes after the 2-1 home defeat to West Ham.

Hughes is facing a backlash from disgruntled Rangers fans, with Harry Redknapp being touted for the job if he fails to turn results around before the next transfer window - when the big spenders plan to buy even more players.

A source told ESPN that the West London club could be losing as much as £5 million a month, having bought virtually an entire new team during the summer and considerably raising the wage bill in the process.

Air Asia boss Fernandes persuaded Mittal to continue to back the club - but it remains to be seen how long Rangers will continue to back Hughes if rumours about the benefactor leaving turn out to be true.

QPR rely on the support of vice-chairman Amit Bhatia, who looks after the 34% holding owned by Mittal, his father-in-law.

But a Premier League chairman told ESPN on Tuesday: "Mittal wants out is the rumour in the game. It has also been suggested that he tried to get out in late August, but Fernandes begged him to stay in until he found another investor.

"He agreed to stay until October or November at the latest. The club are losing £4 million to £5million a month."

Bhatia tweeted that he had "no plans of going anywhere any time soon" but added: "When the time comes to move on, I will have to. But for now, there's loads still to be done at QPR."

It has already been suggested that the Mittal family had an option to withdraw their backing in the close season, having considered selling their shareholding a year earlier. "We had the conversation when things got very difficult," Bhatia said.

Before the season started, QPR chief executive Philip Beard told ESPN that the club's only concern was to survive in the Premier League, ensuring they would still be around when the hike in TV revenues kicks in next season.

Meanwhile, former QPR striker Rodney Marsh, who made of 200 appearances for the Royals, is backing the club to stave off relegation, so long Hughes finds a working formula and sticks with it.

He told ESPN: "I'm certain Tony Fernandes is desperate for QPR to become a significant football team over the course of the next several years. I'm also certain that he has the best interests of the iconic West London team at heart.

"In his professional, corporate world he has been successful over an extensive period, building his airline business among other projects. But like most things, it takes time!

"I've watched all of QPR's games on TV this season and one thing is glaringly obvious. It doesn't matter how many players you sign there is one constant and that is that they have to play together. That takes time.

"The team has changed in every single game! Different systems, different players. I bet even lifetime R's fans would disagree profusely as to which is QPR's best starting XI.

"QPR can avoid relegation and will in my opinion. My message, keep the faith but stay consistent."

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