Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWhat to do with a problem like Faurlin? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough What to do with a problem like Faurlin? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

What to do with a problem like Faurlin?

Yesterday, or last Saturday if you are one of their fans, Queens Park Rangers won promotion back to the Premier League, ending an absence of 15 years or so. Or will they?

As you may have heard, it’s been in the news a little bit over the last week or so, QPR have a FA hearing hanging over them regarding their midfield Alejandro Faurlin and alleged third party ownership. Overall, there are seven regulations the club are charged with breaching, including “providing false information when the player was registered” and making payments to an unauthorised agent.

At the time Faurlin was registered, the Football League had no rules regarding third-party ownership so they passed the case on to the FA who did have regulations in place following the Carlos Tevez affair. Faurlin was registered with the FA, however, the Association allowed QPR to buy out the third-party ownership in January of this year to allow Faurlin to continue to play legally while the case was pending.

This raises the question of how QPR managed to register Faurlin as a player with the FA despite knowing that there was a third party involved in the player’s ownership, hence the charge levelled at QPR and Gianni Paladini (the club Chairman) of providing false information to the FA both at the time of Faurlin’s signing and his contract extension in October 2010.

There is no precedent for the FA to follow when passing judgement on this case though similar previous incidents can provide context. For example, late last season, Hartlepool were deducted three points and fined £10,000 for fielding an illegible player, Gary Liddle, in a 2-0 win against Brighton, presumably being deducted that number of points due to the victory gained with Liddle in the team. Similarly, earlier this season, Hereford and Torquay were fined three points and one point respectively for both fielding illegible players in the same game, which Hereford won (again, hence the number of points deducted).

These cases show previous punishments for players being registered incorrectly; that the points accrued with the illegible player being deducted, entirely reasonable in the above contexts. As  Faurlin has played in 80 games for QPR, if these precedents are followed, the FA would have to deduct all of QPR’s points gained, with Faurlin in the team, up until the third party ownership was bought out by QPR in January.

But, fielding an illegible player is not the only rule that has been broken by QPR; the issue of third-party ownership is also in play. The most obvious precedent for this is the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano signings to West Ham United in 2006. The Premier League’s decision in 2007, verified and scrutinised by an independent panel, to not dock West Ham points hints that a points deduction for QPR is unlikely. However, a later tribunal related to this case ruled that West Ham would have to pay £5.5 million in compensation to Sheffield United (who were relegated in the season Tevez played for West Ham) as the Hammers were liable for the loss (financial and footballing) suffered by the Blades.

 If this is applied to QPR, this could open up a huge can of worms as the 2nd to 7th clubs in the Championship could claim that Faurlin’s illegibility gave QPR an unfair advantage in finishing first in the league, thus denying other clubs an automatic promotion place or a play off place and the financial loss that comes from this.

Finally, the issue of concealing the true nature of Faurlin’s registration to the FA (by hiding his third-party ownership) is a case without precedent for the FA to follow so it will be very interesting to see how this rule breach is judged.

The FA have also shot themselves in the foot by deferring the judgement so late in the season, with the hearing to begin on Tuesday and a verdict being delivered three days later. If the hearing had taken place as soon as possible after the rule breach was noted, as in the cases of Hartlepool, Hereford and Torquay, the ramifications would not be quite so huge as the outcomes of the season (promotion and relegation) would not have been decided already. Furthermore, should a points deduction not occur, the FA will face accusations of ‘bottling it’ and allowing clubs to break rules with only a fine (a certainty to be imposed in this situation at the very least) to punish them, which is below a slap on the wrist for modern mega-rich football clubs.

For my money, I have a funny feeling the FA are only going to hit QPR with a heavy fine and, possibly, a five point deduction which will look a bit threatening until you realise it basically has no impact on the outcome of where the title or promotion ends up.

The fact that the case involves one man controversy storm Neil Warnock, a man who heavily criticised the FA for their handling of the Tevez affair back when he was Sheffield United manager, only adds an extra layer of intrigue to the whole story. Very much watch this space.


You can follow the Layman on Twitter at!/Dan_Whiteway

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