Monday 20 November 2017

Warnock's tears of joy as QPR escape with fine

John Ashdown

Neil Warnock was in tears after hearing his Queens Park Rangers side could finally celebrate promotion to the Premier League. QPR got their hands on the Championship trophy yesterday, a week after they clinched it, following the English FA's announcement that they would not be docked points over the Alejandro Faurlin affair.

The club were instead fined £875,000 after being found guilty of two of the seven charges facing them surrounding the alleged third-party ownership of the Argentine midfielder. Once fears of a potential 15-point penalty were not realised, a belated promotion party began and could not even be spoiled by a 2-1 defeat against Leeds.

"At an Independent Regulatory Commission today, two charges were found proven against Queens Park Rangers, who were fined £875,000," said the English FA in a statement released after the final whistle. "In total, seven charges were heard in relation to Alejandro Faurlin, concerning the existence of an agreement between the club and a third party in respect of the player's economic rights, and the failure by the club to notify the FA of that agreement before the player was registered to play in England in July 2009.

"The club were found to have been in breach of FA Rule E3, and to have also been in breach of FA Football Agents Regulations, A1. The commission found that in respect of the breach of FA Rule E3 the club be fined £800,000. In respect of the breach of FA Football Agents Regulations, A1, the club be fined a further £75,000. In addition the club was warned as to its future conduct with particular regard as to regulatory compliance."

Five other charges against the club were dropped. The delay in the FA's decision and the shadow cast by a potential points deduction meant that Rangers approached yesterday's fixture with Leeds not knowing whether it was a meaningless final-day dead rubber or a crucial game that could prove the difference between promotion, the play-offs or worse. With the sword of Damocles clattering harmlessly to the floor before kick-off, the home side could enjoy their day without worry.

"It gave everyone a lift," said the QPR midfielder Shaun Derry of the moment the news filtered through to the dressing room. "I think it was more relief than anything else. We were worried. We were given assurances that we didn't really have an awful lot to worry about. But when it's in the back of your mind it's awful. I'm just so, so happy."

Rangers finish eight points clear of third-placed Swansea, who have opted against challenging the decision not to dock points from the champions.

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said he will not take any action and the Swans have already begun selling tickets for their play-off semi-finals against Nottingham Forest. "Whatever news came our way we would take and accept and move on," Jenkins told BBC Radio Wales. "I suppose it's good to get something finalised and we can all move on and get on with what we need to do over the next few games."

Leeds' slim play-off hopes were extinguished by Forest's win at Crystal Palace, meaning their victory was as irrelevant for the visiting fans as defeat was for those on the home terraces. Max Gradel and Ross McCormack scored to cancel out Heidur Helguson's opener after 27 seconds for Rangers.

"The lads have been through agony for weeks -- how they've coped has been amazing," said Warnock. "Ali [Faurlin] has been so strong and kept producing one performance after another. To do what they've done this season is remarkable. The result wasn't what we wanted today, but it wasn't about that."

Indeed, for those in blue and white hoops the result was the most minor of dampeners. "There's only one Faurlin," sang the QPR fans as the Championship trophy was brought out for the presentation. Good job -- one has been enough trouble.

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