QPR boss Hughes backs Premier League’s decision on handshakes
QPR boss Mark Hughes backs the Premier League's decision to scrap the pre-match handshakes for clash at Chelsea
Mark Hughes has backed the Premier League’s decision to scrap the pre-match handshakes for Queens Park Rangers’ game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea captain John Terry is facing a court case on 9 July after he was alleged to have racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during the Blues’ 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road in October.
The pre-match handshakes were also cancelled when the two London clubs met in the FA Cup fourth round in January – and Hughes believes it was right to do the same for Sunday’s clash.
“We were informed late on Thursday night,” said Hughes. “I think it’s the correct decision.
“It just takes all the build-up before the game out of the equation.
“I think that’s what we were conscious off leading into the FA Cup tie and the game itself was a little bit of a damp squib in terms of the intensity because of what occurred beforehand.
“All the discussion and debate about who was going to shake whose hand. The game itself was like a side issue.
“I don’t think that’s correct and I’m glad that the issue is out of the way now.”
Ferdinand’s lawyers had reportedly told the QPR defender not shake hands with Terry, who has denied the accusations of racial abuse, on Sunday as it could serve to prejudice the trial of the England defender.
But Hughes insists the handshake issue has not preoccupied the thoughts of his squad, or indeed himself, this week ahead of a crucial London derby with QPR just a point clear of the relegation zone.
“Our focus was always on the game anyway,” added Hughes.
“The decision came through on Thursday night but it was my intention to mention it briefly on Friday morning.
“Up to this point we haven’t really discussed it to any length because it hasn’t been on our radar and hasn’t been our focus this week.
“We knew that Anton Ferdinand had been told he wouldn’t be allowed to shake his hand so we understood that part of it.
“Obviously discussions between Chelsea, the Premier League and ourselves were on-going and that process seems to have come up with the right decision in this regard.
“We haven’t focused on it at all. This was a debate that was always going to be raised again once the European games were out of the way.
“From our point of view we’ve just been focusing on preparing for a very important game. It’s not been discussed at any length and I didn’t have one-to-ones with any players involved.”