QPR fans await Faurlin fallout
It was meant to be a bit of fun. Nothing serious. Just a bit of a light-hearted aside to the usual teeth-gnashing at this time of year when clubs are jostling for position at the top of the Championship. And then, just when it appeared nothing could go wrong for Queen’s Park Rangers, it happened.
It went wrong. The word barely does this justice. You know the facts by now. Alejandro Faurlin. Gianni Paladini. The FA. And seven charges. The same figure as the number of points by which they lead the Championship table. All of a sudden, the portrayal of QPR as The Anthill Mob doesn’t look quite so fanciful.
Back up, back up. So far, nothing has been proven, decided, confirmed… deducted… That is now the key word that haunts the Loftus Road club’s promotion charge. At the moment, it remains merely a surreal threat to QPR supporters rather than a devastating reality. But there was always a lingering suspicion surrounding Paladini in the eyes of many fans. For this concern to gather pace now, with their side so close to a glorious promotion, must be demoralising.
It would be nice to be able to focus on the positives of the Football League, especially in a season which has been fascinating at the top and bottom of every division. And at the top, proudly, sit Queen’s Park Rangers, as they have from the very beginning. It would be brilliant to focus on their imperious league form and the challenge that they continue to face over the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Sadly, it now looks likely that on-field challenges will take a back seat. It is the same story at Plymouth Argyle, whose story will be covered in more depth soon. The football is becoming a side issue, and men in suits will decide the fate of both clubs. Perhaps, particularly in Plymouth’s case, other men in suits already have. Despite the way he exited Home Park and the possibility that Queen’s Park Rangers may yet replace his current side in the top flight, I am sure Ian Holloway will be taking no pleasure in the situations at two of his former clubs.
Last season’s Championship promotion race, which almost seemed done and dusted at this stage last year as far as the top two were concerned, had a heartwarming end – for most Tangerines and neutrals, anyhow – when Blackpool scooted into the last play-off place on the last day and promptly won at Wembley. We might look back on that conclusion as far more palatable than what may come from the Paladini saga.
There are, of course, a huge number of supporters for whom the news of a possible points deduction for Queen’s Park Rangers was a godsend. These would include fans of Swansea City, Norwich City, Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Burnley, Reading, Hull City and any other supporters who may still have ambitious designs on a top six spot. Perhaps even, at a gigantic stretch, Sheffield Wednesday, who would have survived the drop last summer had QPR been deducted more than 10 points from their tally at the end of the 2009/10 season. Maybe that is taking things a bit too far.
In a way, though, it isn’t. To deduct points from QPR’s total this season seems slightly ill-conceived. Faurlin has played a very large number of games for the Hoops now over more than one season. His was not a recent signing made by the club and the FA appear to have known about this problem for several months. Nevertheless, it isn’t just one charge. It’s seven. If they have sinned, they must be punished. And plenty are pointing to precedents.
In short, the destination of the Championship title and a prized Premier League place may well come down to a decision regarding a past transgression. But no matter how indignant the cry from opposing supporters, this isn’t how football league tables should be calculated. Not in an ideal world, anyway. QPR supporters don’t deserve it. Certain figures at the club may do, but the supporters don’t. Sadly, that’s not even a consideration in these matters.
It still seems perverse. The actions of one, two, perhaps three or four people two years ago impacting so heavily on the reward for the actions of eleven men and thousands of their followers. This is the reality of football though.
No matter what we may think our clubs deserve based on events on the pitch, there will always be the caveat that other influences can play a part in deciding futures. One voice on the terraces? Nothing. One voice in the boardroom? The power to shatter dreams with one wrong move. That’s where Plymouth Argyle find themselves. That’s where Queen’s Park Rangers may join them.
It all stinks, and I hate it. Football isn’t always the beautiful game.