LONDON (AP) – Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes completed his takeover of English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers on Thursday after buying out Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and former Renault F1 team principal Flavio Briatore.
Fernandes, who runs budget airline AirAsia and F1's Team Lotus, bought a 66 percent stake in the London club through his company, the Tune Group.
''I've always wanted to be involved in football and the appeal of a London club, like QPR, was too good an opportunity to turn down,'' Fernandes said.
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, the wealthiest person in Britain, retains his 33 percent stake in QPR, which has just returned to England's top flight after a 15-year absence.
Fernandes will become chairman of the club and will be joined on the board by Tune Group owner Kamarudin Bin Meranun. Mittal's son-in-law Amit Bhatia will resume his position as vice chairman after leaving last year.
Ecclestone is relinquishing control of QPR after five years as the majority owner.
The 47-year-old Fernandes, who combines his job as chief executive of AirAsia with being an F1 team principal, had previously tried to buy West Ham.
''Everyone knows I've followed West Ham all my life, but I've always had a soft spot for QPR,'' he said. ''Rangers were one of the first teams I watched as a child at Loftus Road ... QPR is a raw diamond and hopefully I can contribute into turning it into a diamond.''
PR, which won the League Championship last season, opened its Premier League campaign with a 4-0 home loss to Bolton last weekend.
''I have ambitions in the long term. I could easily say we're going to win the Champions League and the Premier League, but that's really not my style,'' Fernandes said. ''I don't want to make big promises I can't guarantee.''
Far from boasting about giving manager Neil Warnock a big budget for transfers, Fernandes wants to invest in youngsters to try to deliver the club's first major title since the 1967 League Cup.
''I'm keen to create a good academy, so that there's a constant supply of players,'' he said. ''We're in a fantastic part of London and we should be bringing kids through.''