In the aftermath of the wild celebrations at Watford the previous Saturday, we once again had to come to terms with the fact that the FA was due to announce their decision on the eve of our final game of the season. As the week progressed, the tension was becoming more and more unbearable. Then we learnt that the verdict would be delayed and there were conflicting rumours regarding the trophy presentation. The Football League issued the following statement on Friday:
‘The Football League can confirm that it intends to present the npower Championship Trophy to Queens Park Rangers at the conclusion of tomorrow’s fixture with Leeds United, in line with custom and practice. This decision will only be reviewed if the verdict of the ongoing FA Tribunal affects standings in the Championship table before that time.’
There were very mixed emotions and yet more rumours circulating the following morning around the ground that the FA would indeed announce their decision prior to kick-off. I was in the Coningham when a loud roar went up. I went outside where jubilant Rangers fans were celebrating and one of them told me the news. I couldn’t take any more rumours and asked him to confirm how he had found out. The next thing I did was to ask Jimmy to pinch my arm as I still found it hard to believe. Larry David was in a cafe in the Uxbridge Road when the news broke and after it went quiet someone read out the announcement. The BBC later summarised the whole saga as follows:
‘QPR have been promoted as Championship winners after they escaped a points deduction for breaching regulations in the 2009 signing of Alejandro Faurlin. The club were fined £875,000 after being found guilty of two of the seven charges against them relating to the Argentine midfielder’s ownership. QPR had feared they could be docked points which could have left them in the play-off places. But the verdict allowed them to receive the Championship trophy on Saturday.
QPR manager Neil Warnock and his players collected the prize at their Loftus Road home after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leeds in their final game of the season. Warnock told BBC Sport: “There have been a few tears in the dressing room. It’s been a hell of a time and how they (the players) have been able to focus I’ll never know. I can’t praise them high enough. It hasn’t sunk in completely. It’s just a relief to know we are the champions.”
The verdict ended the possibility of Cardiff or Swansea moving into an automatic place at QPR’s expense. But both Welsh clubs confirmed they would not take further action regarding the decision. The decision not to dock the West Londoners points was made by an independent tribunal convened by the Football Association. The panel imposed a fine of £800,000 for a breach of FA Rule E3 – which relates to bringing the game into disrepute – and a fine of £75,000 for breaking Rule A1, which outlaws the use of unauthorised agents. The club was warned as to its future conduct with regard to regulatory compliance, and ordered to pay 50% of the costs of the tribunal. A further five charges against the club and one charge against chairman Gianni Paladini were found not proven.
The club and Paladini had been charged with submitting false information in documents provided to the FA relating to a contract extension signed by Faurlin in October. The tribunal had been scheduled to deliver its findings by 1600 BST on Friday, but the verdict was delayed because of the weight of evidence. That prolonged the agony for QPR who had secured their promotion to the Premier League as champions with last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Watford, but had to put their celebrations on hold. The FA had been investigating the case since September, when QPR first asked for permission to buy out the third party that owned the economic rights of Faurlin. QPR were prompted to do this by the Football League’s introduction of rules prohibiting the third-party ownership of players. The League told the Loftus Road outfit they would have to notify the English football’s governing body of their plans and it then became apparent the club may have been in breach of FA regulations for more than a year.’
(The above pic was taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)