Queens Park Rangers were due to be presented with the Football League Championship trophy at Loftus Road on Saturday following their final match of the season against Leeds. But, following the hearing into the seven violations of FA regulations in relation to the signing of midfielder Alejandro Faurlín in July 2009 and the extension of the original deadline, it seems there could be a change of plans for Saturday afternoon.
The club itself faces five charges, whilst Chairman Gianni Paladini faces a further two; with the results and punishments originally scheduled to be announced on Friday afternoon. But, at this late stage in the season with the Championship already won on the pitch, what would be the best punishment for QPR?
Many seem to think QPR will be deducted points thereby stripping them of the Championship title. They currently sit 5 points clear of second-placed Norwich and 9 points ahead of the playoff positions. When Luton Town were charged for similar offences they were docked 10 points. If the FA were to follow this precedent, as former FA chief Mark Palios claimed they should, then QPR would drop into third place, Norwich would be crowned champions and either Cardiff or Swansea would gain the second automatic promotion place.
But QPR have without doubt been the best team in the League this year and have deserved their success. To be punished retrospectively would, in many people’s eyes, be unfair whilst Norwich’s resultant title would feel undervalued and not recognised as a true victory. Surely this would turn the whole season into a sham?
If the FA is to look for precedent then it will undoubtedly examine the case of Carlos Tevez at West Ham in 2007. Despite scoring some crucial goals that ultimately saved the club from relegation, the Premier League refused to dock points and relegate West Ham and instead fined the club a record £5.5 million. A further £26.5 million was later paid to Sheffield United out of court as compensation for their relegation. Whilst a fine would have the least impact on other clubs and would be easiest for the FA to impose, QPR is, in terms of owners, one of the richest clubs in football and surely would be getting off lightly?
Others have speculated that perhaps QPR should be faced with a points deduction for next season or even a transfer ban. Whilst these two options would ultimately hamper any hopes of Premier League survival next season, they would have much less impact on other teams and league standings than by punishing QPR for this season.
If the FA were to dock QPR points at this stage and relegate them to the playoffs, at least the team would still have a chance to fight for promotion and carry on their fantastic form on the pitch this season. Admittedly it would tarnish this year’s Championship but at least Rangers would have a chance to redeem themselves and it would definitely make for an exciting playoffs.
Ultimately the main issue is that action is required fast as the Football League comes to a conclusion this weekend and the playoffs are just around the corner. The Football League have notified potential playoff competitors that the calendar might be subject to change so a points deduction is clearly not out of the question. The transfer itself was nearly two years ago and it has been nearly eight months since it first came to light following the player’s contract extension. Therefore, the FA must act now, particularly if QPR feel their punishment unfair and undertake an appeal process.