QPR face points deduction by FA before end of season
By Matt Slater
BBC sports news reporter
Faurlin was owned by three Argentine agents when he joined QPR in 2009
Queens Park Rangers could be docked points before the end of the season as the Football Association wants to avoid any doubt over who is promoted.
QPR lead the Championship by seven points but are in trouble over the signing of Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.
On Wednesday the FA hit QPR with seven charges relating to the initial deal arising from the Argentine's ownership.
The FA is now waiting for the club to respond to the charges but will push for the earliest possible hearing.
In a statement QPR denied any wrongdoing.
"Having co-operated fully with the FA's investigation, QPR and [chairman] Gianni Paladini shall be denying all of the charges and requesting a formal hearing to determine them. We are confident there has been no deliberate wrongdoing," the club said.
It has emerged the FA has been investigating the case since September when QPR asked for permission to buy out a third party that owned Faurlin's economic rights.
The club was prompted to do this by the Football League's introduction of rules prohibiting the third-party ownership of players.
The league told QPR they would have to notify the FA of their plans and it then became apparent the club may have been in breach of FA regulations for over a year.
Those rules were brought in following the Carlos Tevez saga. That case dragged on for two years after Tevez helped West Ham beat relegation from the Premier League in 2007 despite being owned by a third party.
Sheffield United went down instead and lodged a legal challenge that ended with the Hammers owing the Premier League £5.5m for breaking the rules and the Blades £20m in compensation.
West Ham, however, avoided any points deduction that would have taken them down in Sheffield United's place.
With QPR seemingly on course for a return to the top flight after a 15-year absence, the FA is desperate to avoid any repeat of the Tevez affair.
QPR are expected to ask for more time to respond to the charges - they range from a failure to notify the FA of Faurlin's ownership to the use of an unauthorised agent in the transfer from Argentine club Instituto de Cordoba - and a brief extension is likely to be granted.
But the FA is acutely aware of the need for clarity as the Championship season comes to a boil and its financial regulation unit and legal team will seek a rapid resolution to the case.
It is expected the case will eventually be heard by a three-man panel, chaired by a QC with financial expertise.
The panel will have wide-ranging powers at its disposal, including the deduction of points and the imposition of heavy fines. Luton Town, for example, were deducted 10 points in 2008 for using unlicensed agents.
Third-party ownership of players is illegal in English football but is common in South America and it is believed Faurlin was effectively owned by three Argentine agents.
A talented midfielder, the 24-year-old has made 80 league appearances for QPR since former manager Jim Magilton made him the club's record signing in 2009, although there is some confusion over how much he actually cost and who received the reported £3.5m fee.
QPR have been in superb form this season, losing just four times in 36 games, and have a seven-point lead over their closest pursuers Swansea City and Norwich City.
Any points deduction would be hard on current manager Neil Warnock, although he will be well versed in the rules concerning third-party ownership as he was Sheffield United's manager when a Tevez-inspired West Ham beat the drop at his club's expense.
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