Mark Donnelly, the former Chief Financial Officer at the Football Association, took up his role as Chief Operating Officer at QPR in January 2013.
Donnelly has previously played a key role at The F.A, notably in terms of the overall financial stability in the FA Group, Wembley Stadium’s improved trading position and the opening of the new national football centre at St George’s Park.
Currently he is overseeing plans for a new stadium and training ground at QPR and will be presenting at TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit in Nice (9-11 October). We caught up with him earlier this month to discuss his current role and his expectations of Nice.
TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit (TDS): What are the main challenges the new QPR training ground?
Mark Donnelly (MD): Main challenges are incorporating an elite first team training centre, alongside an Academy with Community facilities.
TDS: What’s so special about this work / project?
MD: It represents a huge opportunity and signifies its intention to invest in the future of the club. Integrating the Academy alongside the first team and providing that aspirational transition path for the talented boys is the main aim and is all about the future of QPR.
TDS: Any news on QPR’s stadium plans?
MD: There is a lot of work going on around new stadium plans.
It is obviously complex trying to put together a suitable site and work with the right development partners to make it happen.
There are a number of potential sites being looked at. The club’s stated ambition is to move to a new 35-40,000 capacity stadium to enable the club to develop and grow whilst retaining those things which makes Loftus Road so special and such a great place to watch football.
TDS: Your favourite new sports venue you’ve visited? Why?
MD: I have a lot of good memories from Wembley having worked there for a couple of years. I think the Emirates is an example of a stadium development that was executed incredibly well. The O2 remains one of my favorite venues and the ATP World Tour Finals is a great annual event.
All the Olympic venues from London 2012 were fantastic places to watch sport and would be hard to beat.
TDS: Tell us about you worst stadium experience?
MD: The worst stadium experience was generic and when I started going to football matches as a child with my Dad. The poor facilities and general experience was not great. I’m glad to say that things have improved beyond recognition.
TDS: How did you first get involved in the stadium development sector?
MD: I have been fortunate to be involved in some great iconic developments – from The O2 to St George’s Park and Wembley. I am looking forward to being involved in 2 new great facilities with QPR.
TDS: What are your expectations of the Summit in Nice? What do you want hear/learn more about?
MD: I think the programme and line up of speakers is excellent – it is always interesting to hear from your peers and I am definitely looking to borrow ideas and ensure that our future developments take the best of what is currently available in training centres and stadiums.
Want to join Mark and other top international delegates on the French Riviera in October? Click here for more information.