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Friday, March 11, 2011

QPR Report Friday: QPR's FA Charges: Further Stories and Responses

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- On This Day: March 11....2 Yr Flashback: Dave McIntyre on What's Gone Wrong at QPR...39 Years ago: QPR's first post-Rodney Marsh Game

- Balanta/MK Dons Return....Great Gesture by Ex-QPR Peter Reid...Ex-QPR Fan Forum at Wycombe (Waddock, Ainsworth, Bull --(QPR's Last Fan Forum, FOUR YEARS AGO, Next Month!)

- This is Marie Curie Cancer Care Football Week

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QPR "Vs" The FA

- The Earlier articles re QPR and Paladini Charged Compilation

Guardian/David Conn

Queens Park Rangers face anxious wait over FA charges and consequences

With their chairman charged with impropriety, the club's push for promotion to the Premier League may founder in docked points

The prospect for Queens Park Rangers of being docked points to deprive them of a return to the Premier League is just the latest outlandish episode in the stormy modern times of a club always previously regarded as one of London's most amiable. That air of Shepherd's Bush cosiness was shattered 10 years ago when Chris Wright, the Chrysalis music impresario who bought QPR in 1996, was forced to put the club into administration shortly before it plummeted to the the third tier.

There followed an agonising period in which the west London club was genuinely threatened with going out of business, sustained with a high-interest £10m loan from a Panamanian company, while its neighbours Chelsea and Fulham were reaping the fruits of the Premier League.

Yet when, after years of struggle, the club was suddenly bought in November 2007 by the then Renault Formula One team principal, Flavio Briatore, with smaller stakes also soon bought by the F1 commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, and Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel magnate, QPR were instantly hailed as the richest football club in the world. That billing was down to Ecclestone's and Mittal's huge fortunes but they have never poured their money into the club in the way Roman Abramovich has across the way at Chelsea or Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City.

In December Ecclestone announced he had bought out Briatore, becoming the 62% majority owner of the club. "We're not changing anything, just tidying a few things up," Ecclestone said enigmatically then.

Briatore and Ecclestone had persuaded Mittal to buy his 20%. The businessmen were attracted by being able to buy a club which had realistic prospects of reaching the TV multimillions of the Premier League, even though QPR itself had missed out for a decade and is still in 19,000-capacity Loftus Road.

They retained as a director of their holding company, and chairman of the football club, Gianni Paladini, the Italian former players' agent who arrived at the club during one of its many crises in 2005. There was suspicion of Paladini from fans who had seen their club hobble towards extinction, particularly because he arrived in tandem with unidentified investors represented by Antonio Caliendo, another Italian agent who had been convicted of attempted corruption in 1991.

Yet until he was charged personally by the FA on Wednesday for allegedly submitting false information in the documents relating to the renegotiation of Alejandro Faurlín's contract last October, Paladini has dug in to drag up QPR. Yesterday Paladini said: "I have worked so hard for the club, seven days a week. I do not believe we have done anything wrong and nothing will happen. But I cannot say more because the case is with our lawyers."

Ecclestone, Mittal and Briatore have said their plan is to rebuild QPR and see the club into the Premier League sustainably, not by throwing vast fortunes in – but competing for promotion in the Championship is not a cheap venture. QPR recorded a loss of £19m in 2008-09, which got them to 11th in the division, and £14m last year, when they finished 13th.

Faurlín, who signed in a deal the club said was worth £3.5m – money which it is now understood was not paid to Faurlín's Argentinian club Instituto de Córdoba – was their highest-profile signing of 2009, and this season the Moroccan Adel Taarabt, a free from Tottenham Hotspur, has been the club's star performer.

The 2009-10 accounts, the club's most recent, show that Sarita Capital Investments, Briatore's company, had loaned QPR £13.6m, while Ecclestone personally had lent £1.4m. Last week QPR confirmed that "preliminary discussions" have begun over a sale of the club, which brought an instant statement from Amit Bhatia, Mittal's son-in-law who is the holding company vice-chairman, that the Mittals are not interested in selling their 20%.

That has left the assumption that Ecclestone is the one considering selling his stake, which looked odd considering QPR, seven points clear at the top of the Championship under Neil Warnock's management, are finally on the threshold of promotion. The club is denying that the sale discussions have anything to do with the FA investigation into the charges over Faurlín which, if proved, could cost the club points – and Premier League status. Calls to Ecclestone at Formula One were not returned.

Bhatia said last week the Mittals "remain passionate about QPR," and this week the club has said they and Paladini are "confident that there has been no deliberate wrongdoing involved". QPR fans, who have been watching a side set to return to the top flight after a 15-year absence, can only wait nervously for the next dramatic chapter. Guardian

The Guardian/David Conn
Alejandro Faurlín transfer to QPR saw Instituto de Córdoba paid nothing

• QPR say 2009 deal for Argentine was 'worth £3.5m'
• Faurlín allegedly owned by third party though 2009-10

QPR signed Alejandro Faurlín from Instituto de Córdoba in 2009 in a deal described as 'worth £3.5m' - but the Argentinian club received no fee. Photograph: Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport

Queens Park Rangers say they broke no rules when signing the Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlín in July 2009, even though it has emerged that Faurlín's former club, Instituto de Córdoba, were paid nothing when Faurlín left for QPR. The club has been charged with seven breaches of Football Association rules in relation to the Faurlín signing and the renegotiation of his contract last October, the most important of which allege that Faurlín continued to be owned by a third party for the whole of the 2009-10 season.

Third-party ownership of players was banned by the Premier League and FA after the Carlos Tevez affair and QPR have become the first club to be charged with breaching that prohibition. If the charges are proved, then QPR, clear leaders of the Championship, are considered almost certain to be docked points which could cost them promotion.

QPR still describe Faurlín's signing on their own website as a "three-year deal worth £3.5m". However, sources in Argentina have confirmed that Instituto, who play in Argentina's second division, did not receive a penny when Faurlín left for QPR.

There is, though, some confusion about the significance of that. QPR's description of the deal as "worth" £3.5m does not, said sources close to the club's case, mean they ever stated they paid £3.5m to Instituto. QPR are refusing to comment on the details beyond their statement that they will be "denying all the charges," so nobody at the club will explain publicly what they mean by saying the deal was "worth" £3.5m.

However, sources close to the club's case claim it did not mean they paid Instituto the £3.5m, so they argue it is not damning that Instituto did not receive any money. All payments by English clubs when buying overseas-based players have to go through the FA as a clearing house, so the FA has known since July 2009 that no payment was made to Instituto, despite QPR's description that the deal was "worth" £3.5m.

The club is expected to argue that in fact Faurlín had come to the end of his contract with Instituto and was therefore "on a Bosman", available on a free transfer. In the club's annual report and accounts for the year to 31 May 2010, Ishan Saksena, the chairman of QPR Holdings, which owns the club, described the arrival of Faurlín and Adel Taarabt, then on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, as QPR's "most notable" signings. However, no fee was ascribed to the signing of either player.

QPR will argue to the independent commission, which the FA is to convene, that they signed Faurlín on a free transfer and he was not owned by a third party. It is understood the FA alleges the registration of Faurlín, who has excelled in the Championship, was in fact owned by an Argentinian company.

As West Ham were not even charged with third-party ownership because the rule was not in place when Tevez was signed in 2006, but were still fined £5.5m over irregularities, QPR are expected to face huge penalties if the FA's charges are proved.

It is thought that the other three charges, relating to use of an "unauthorised agent" and that QPR and its chairman, Gianni Paladini, submitted false documentation when renegotiating Faurlín's contract in October, are not as significant. The agent involved is now known to have been Peppino Tirri, well known in Italy. He does hold an official Fifa agent's licence, but it is understood the FA is alleging he was not also registered here, as the FA requires. Being "unauthorised" in that way is not as serious for a club as dealing with an agent who holds no licence. The Guardian

Daily Telegraph/Paul Kelso - Queens Park Rangers ready to contest charges relating to Alejandro Faurlin transfer
Queens Park Rangers will attempt to avoid a severe penalty for allegedly breaching third-party regulations by arguing that they revealed the potential rule violation voluntarily to the Football Association.

The Championship leaders could face a points deduction after the club and their chairman, Gianni Paladini, were charged with seven breaches of FA regulations in relation to the transfer of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.

The charges relate to breaches of third-party ownership rules, use of an unlicensed agent and Paladini is alleged to have provided false information to the FA.

Faurlin was transferred from FC Instituto de Cordoba in July 2009 but his economic rights were owned by a third-party, believed to be a South American business, rather than QPR.

Faurlin’s transfer fee is listed as £3.4 million, making him the club’s record signing, but there were claims last night from Cordoba that the fee was paid to the un-named third-party rather than FC Instituto.

Inter Milan are reported to have received £500,000 from the deal as they had first option.

Telegraph Sport understands the agent involved in the deal was Peppino Tirri, a London-based Italian who at the time of the deal was not licensed by Fifa to operate in the UK.

Tirri, who has claimed to work for a number of high-profile players including Luis Figo and Wesley Sneijder, was unobtainable on Thursday on the telephone numbers listed on the Fifa website.

The FA will pursue the charges despite QPR’s claim of innocence because they only revealed the third-party involvement after Faurlin had been at the club for more than a year.

QPR only acted in the summer of 2010 when the Football League adopted rules banning third-party ownership of players. The club asked the league if they could buy out the third-party to conform with the new rules, and were referred to the Fa, which controls player registrations.

The FA were approached in August and began investigating the rule breach. In October 2010 QPR renegotiated Faurlin’s contract, at which stage the FA allege Paladini provided false information.

The FA will await a response from QPR’s lawyers before setting a date for any disciplinary hearing, but the club can expect a severe penalty if found guilty.

The FA does not publish its potential sanctions, but they range from a fine to the loss of points, potentially imperilling the club’s promotion chances. Daily Telegraph

Daily Mail - This isn't Tevez II, insists QPR manager Warnock
By Sami Mokbel on 10th March 2011

Neil Warnock has claimed the FA charges threatening to derail Queens Park Rangers' promotion push bear no resemblance to the Carlos Tevez affair.

The QPR manager told Sportsmail: 'I've spoken to our legal advisers and they have been very reassuring. From what they have told me, this is nothing like the Tevez situation.'

The Championship leaders could be docked points if found guilty of breaking rules relating to third-party ownership and agents over their £3.4million signing of Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.
Rangers' legal team were preparing their defence yesterday and were confident of proving the club have not been involved in any deliberate wrongdoing.

Warnock called his squad in for a meeting ahead of training yesterday to ensure the furore does not affect heir hopes of promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

Argentinian midf ielder Faurlin, 24, showed enough in training to convince Warnock he is in the right frame of mind to start against Crystal Palace tomorrow.

Despite the FA charges, the irony of the situation is surely not lost on the veteran manager. Warnock criticised Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore after West Ham dodged a points penalty in 2007 for a similar offence.

The Hammers were instead fined £5.5m after being found guilty of acting improperly and withholding vital documents relating to the ownership of Tevez and Javier Mascherano.
Tevez's goals at the back end of the 2006-07 season were central to West Ham's survival and Warnock argued that his Sheffield United team were relegated as a result.
Faurlin has started 30 of Rangers' 36 Championship games this season, playing a key role in opening a sevenpoint gap at the top.
Warnock's insistence that the charges facing Rangers are nothing like the Tevez case show the Yorkshireman is anxious to avoid any accusation of hypocrisy.

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side are Rangers' closest Championship rivals, said: 'It will be interesting to see what the consequence will be here and what Neil's response is as well.
You only have to look at the Tevez scenario, where West Ham did not lose any points.

'I'd be surprised if Rangers are docked points. I'm sure the authorities will act before the end of the season.' Daily Mail

- QPR fans now face the prospect that hopes of a return to the Premier League will be dashed by a points deduction if the Club is found guilty of seven breaches of FA regulations. This has led fans to question the role played by former agent Gianni Paladini in Club affairs. Paladini, who himself stands personally accused of giving false information to the FA continues to remain a director and chairman of QPR Football and Athletic Club although his position on the Board of QPR Holdings was recently terminated.
- In fairness to Mr. Paladini it is important to point out that the charges made against both the Club and himself have been denied. Nevertheless the wording of the Club’s statement, that no deliberate wrongdoing has taken place is of concern, if it means that we are relying on ignorance as a defence. We hope that the club can demonstrate that it has always acted in good faith seeking advice and clarification when necessary. If wrongdoing is indeed found by the FA to have taken place, deliberate or otherwise, we hope that the FA will find the most effective way of limiting the punishment to the person or persons involved rather than punishing blameless players and fans.
- In the meanwhile we urge all fans to get behind our manager and the squad as every point we can earn may prove to be more vital than ever to our promotion campaign QPR1st

BBC - QPR face points deduction by FA before end of season
By Matt Slater

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. BBC

THE SUN - Rangers ready to go to War with FA
NEIL WARNOCK was locked in talks with QPR's lawyers yesterday as the club drew up its plan to fight the FA.

The Championship leaders have been hit with seven charges over the signing of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin and fear a points deduction that could wreck their dream of promotion.

Rangers are accused of entering into a third-party agreement when they signed Faurlin from Instituto de Cordoba for a club-record £3.4million in 2009 - and submitting false documents to the FA when they extended his contract last October.

But club insiders insist the case is not as serious as the Carlos Tevez saga in 2006 and, because they have not been charged with fielding an ineligible player, they hope to avoid a points loss.

But the fact boss Warnock has been dragged into the row over a player who was signed by predecessor Jim Magilton shows how seriously he is treating the matter. The Sun

- The FA Rules and Regulations

- World's Richest Billionaires including Lakshmi Mittal and the Ecclestone Family
- Year Flashback: QPR chief keen to renew dialogue with Fans
- The Complete QPR Accounts (for Year Ending May 31, 2010)

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