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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

QPR Report Wednesday Update: The FA Hearings...The Lawyers...West Ham and Warnock

- FA Hearing Devlopments/Stories/Comments/Rumours and QPR Report Messageboard Discussion

- See: More Pages from Saturday's Watford-QPR Programme

- Throughout the day, updates, comments and perspectives re QPR and football in general are posted and discussed on the QPR Report Messageboard...Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER


- Kind Words from a Norwich Fan

- QPR Report "Spot The Ball" # 7

- Several Reports on Last Night's Kit Sponsors/Players Meeting

- Ex-QPR's Tommasi Becomes Head of the Players' Union

- QPR Transfer Gossip Stories

- Leeds New Owner Announced: Ken Bates

- Two Year Flashback: David Jones as Next QPR Manager?

- Four Year Flashback: Statement from the QPR Board Assessing their Season and Looking Forward

- Some pages from Saturday's Watford-QPR Programme

- A Decade Since the QPR-Wimbledon Merger Announced/Thwarted

- For Sale: Flavio Briatore's Jag!

Daily Mail/Charles Sale - QPR lawyers are also playing for the FA

- One certain winner from the FA hearing into QPR's signing of Alejandro Faurlin are London law practice Blackstone Chambers, who are supplying lead barristers for both sides.

The QC heading the FA prosecution is Adam Lewis and his colleague from the same Temple chambers, Ian Mill, is defending the Championship winners, who are facing seven charges. Both lawyers are acknowledged experts in sports law.

Mill is described on the Blackstone website as 'the guy you go to if you really want to tough it out', and Lewis 'stands alone at the Bar in terms of his dedication to sports work'.

But although the choice of QCs is not a surprise, it is causing comment in legal circles that Blackstone should be so heavily involved when former QPR director Nick De Marco is one of their junior barristers, working alongside Mill.

De Marco, another sports law specialist, was brought on to the Loftus Road board in 2007 by chairman Gianni Paladini after building a friendship while offering the then struggling club free legal advice as a QPR fan. De Marco left following the Flavio Briatore-led takeover. Mail

Walesonline Overview/Chris Wathan - QPR hire celebrities’ lawyer to fight their case
QPR hire celebrities’ lawyer to fight their case
QUEENS PARK RANGERS have come out fighting in their bid to avoid a promotion-costing points deduction – by hiring Joe Calzaghe’s lawyer.

QPR yesterday formally denied the seven charges made against them that could yet see the Londoners thrown out of the race for the Premier League – and propel Cardiff City and Swansea City back into the mix.

And they have made sure they have got the very best legal backing at the Wembley hearing after bringing on board celebrity legal eagle Ian Mill QC.

Mill was the man Welsh super-middleweight king Calzaghe had in his corner when he took legal action against former promoter Frank Warren.

And his own firm describes him as a real heavyweight in sports law, claiming he is: “The guy you go to if you really want to tough it out – he’s a real fighter and a fantastic cross-examiner.”

But the undefeated boxing champion is just one of the stellar names Mill has represented, with a client list that reads like a showbiz and sporting who’s who.

David Beckham, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, and F1 teams McLaren and Williams have all put their faith in Mill when it comes to the courts, while he has also been called upon by the almost every governing body in sport from the FA and the Premier League to the IRB, the RFU, the ECB, the ICC and the PGA.

And that’s before you consider his clients in the entertainment business – a list that includes Michael Jackson, George Michael, U2, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Sylvester Stallone, Katherine Jenkins and Tom Jones.

Mill has also shown he is not afraid to take on the big names after representing the former management companies of both Wayne Rooney and Charlotte Church in legal battles against the stars.

It’s an incredible CV – and just underlines how serious the Londoners are taking this legal battle to keep hold of their newly-earned Premier League place.

With some of the richest men in the world behind the Loftus Road side, it is clear QPR are sparing no expense in their defence against the charges surrounding the signing of midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.

Majority owner Lakshmi Mittal is regarded as the sixth-richest man in the world, while the club also have the backing of F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone

And chairman Gianni Paladini has declared the R’s intentions to go all the way in their bid to keep hold of their automatic promotion spot.

“We will fight all the way and justice will be done. We have not tried to cheat anybody,” said Paladini.

“We have done everything in good faith. We have done everything right.”

And it is clear Mill has not been brought on board simply because of a high-profile client basis – but because of his track record on the third-party ownership issue that is at the crux of this legal battle.

Mill was the man who made sure Sheffield United won a staggering £26.6m in compensation from West Ham in an out-of-court settlement from the fall-out of the Carlos Tevez affair.

United, then managed by current Hoops boss Neil Warnock, were given the huge figure after Mill successfully argued that Tevez’s role for West Ham was key in sending the Blades down – despite the fact he was not fully owned by the Hammers.

Ironically, the Tevez case has been the most common example used to explain the nature of some of the charges made against QPR, who are also alleged to have dealt with an unlicensed agent when signing Argentine midfielder Faurlin from Instituto de Cordoba in 2009.

It is thought Mill is the man Warnock went to for assurances his side’s bid for the top flight would not be derailed by this legal fight with the FA – with the veteran manager insisting he was “quietly confident” after his conversation.

Furthermore, he has also sat on FA disciplinary panels in the past – including the one that dismissed Rio Ferdinand’s appeal against an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test – so clearly knows the workings of football’s governance.

And he will now look to justify Warnock’s faith by trying to prove that there was no intentional wrong-doing on QPR’s part – and that any points deduction would not be warranted.

The FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission will hear QPR’s defence and are expected to make a ruling by Friday – just 24 hours before Cardiff and Swansea’s final Championship fixtures of the season.

And already – after FA sources suggested a 15-point deduction in reports last week – there is the very real threat of a heavy points penalty if the charges are upheld.

Former FA chief executive Mark Palios, someone who knows the disciplinary proceedings of the association inside out, yesterday suggested the evidence could yet damn QPR to a minimum 10-point punishment.

And, while the headlines have surrounded the third-party ownership issue thanks in no small part to the sensationalism of Tevez-gate, the role of an unauthorised agent as well as the alleged subsequent falsifying of documents carry equally severe penalties.

But QPR found themselves with at least one supporter yesterday as former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan dismissed the notion of docked points.

He said: “The case they have got is flimsy. The FA and the Football League approved this transaction and were very well aware of what it was.

“The reason why this transaction has gone a little bit bandy is because QPR did something rather silly. It is often the case football clubs do this, they big up the cost of the player to appease their fans that they’re spending a load of dough.

“What QPR did was they had a certain figure attached to this player and they also had some additional figures if they wanted to take him longer term. The figures they quoted were nowhere near the figures they paid.

“The FA cleared the money, the FA received the money, but when QPR start going out saying they spent £3.5m on a player and none of that has been spent that’s when the FA came along and said ‘hang on a second, where’s this other money gone?’ That’s where the investigation came from.

“Now the third-party rule that they’re trying to apply was not in operation at the time they signed this player. They’ve got nothing. QPR are not going to get anything besides a slap across the wrist. I don’t think they did anything wrong.”

However, the FA’s charges are based on the fact they appeared unaware of the full facts of Faurlin’s transfer when the club attempted to register his new contract with the authorities last October – when the player became a fully-fledged QPR player. And one sports lawyer yesterday refused to rule out the possibility of QPR being hit with a points deduction – even if it comes into effect next season.

“The decision in the West Ham case will obviously be brought into the equation, and it should be noted in that in this case there was no points deduction, principally on the basis that such a sanction would have consigned the club to relegation, which was deemed to be unfair on the club’s supporters,” said Andrew Nixon of UK law firm Thomas Eggar.

“However, the situation is slightly different because the third-party rules were brought in after the Tevez dispute, so a deduction cannot be ruled out. Indeed, it is possible that any deduction, if it is imposed, could pass over until next season, and QPR could start next season in the Premier League with a negative points balance.”

QPR’s own players – who celebrated the Championship title following their weekend win at Watford – have united in defending their position as champions.

And midfielder Shaun Derry admitted he could not contemplate the disappointment if their promotion was denied, saying: “We have been the best team this year and we are up there on merit. What a hammer blow it would be to everybody connected with QPR.”

Star man Adel Taarabt added: “We have done the job on the pitch, so we deserve to be where we are. We didn’t cheat or do anything wrong. I don’t know what is happening upstairs, but the FA will make the decision and we will see.”

Bookies have backed QPR’s challenge, with one bookmaker pricing them at 4-11 to remain as champions. WalesonLine

THE EXPRESS/Matthew Dunn - QPR face £90m legal headache

If QPR end up playing in the Premier League next season, they could still end up paying the price

A LEADING sports lawyer has warned the panel meeting over the Alejandro Faurlin case that they have a £90million decision ahead of them.

If QPR end up playing in the Premier League next season, they could still end up paying the price, as Andrew Nixon, a Thomas Eggar associate, anticipates a private breach of contract lawsuit.

In particular, if the team finishing third fail to win promotion via the play-offs, QPR could be the subject of a massive compensation claim.

“They are all contracted parties to the rules,” said Nixon.

“If there is a considerable breach, especially with a reckless disregard to that contract, you could follow the logic to say that it led to a significant loss for somebody.

“The argument is that if QPR hadn’t done what they did, somebody else would be promoted.

“Then forensic accountants would be used to work out what the loss is, but it could easily get to that £90m figure.”

The argument is that if QPR hadn’t done what they did, somebody else would be promoted

The four-day hearing began yesterday at Wembley with a decision expected Friday, the day before the final round of Championship fixtures.

QPR have Ian Mill QC fighting their corner, the man who won £26.5m for Sheffield United from West Ham following the Carlos Tevez affair, after the Hammers had denied the seven charges against them. Express

Martin Samuel in The Mail who's serious journalist - FA PARTY PIECE IS AN EYE OPENER

The sudden interest of the Football Association in third-party ownership issues is intriguing, to say the least. The hearing into the contract of Queens Park Rangers player Alejandro Faurlin began on Tuesday and a verdict is expected by Friday.

There has been some headline-grabbing speculation around the punishment, if guilty, with some claiming the club could be deducted 15 points.

Yet, two years ago, when this column turned the spotlight on Matthew Spring's transfer from Luton Town to Charlton Athletic, it was a different story.

Spring had been on loan at Sheffield United, who struck a gentleman's agreement with Charlton that he could not face them in an FA Cup tie. Luton, as the selling club, were the first party; Charlton, as the buying club, were the second party; so that made Sheffield United, well, you can probably guess.

The Football League at least wrote to all concerned - although heaven knows why, as they did not even install third-party rules until September 2010 - but the response of the FA was a joke.

Having delayed making any comment for roughly two months, and then confirming no action would be taken, not a single member of the governing body was prepared to go on the record to explain why this did not constitute third-party interference.

Now they want to come over like Judge Jeffreys.

Make your mind up, gentlemen, are third-party issues a hanging offence or not? Mail

The Sun/Mark Irwin- QPR told to expect 10pt loss
FORMER FA boss Mark Palios says QPR must be docked at least 10 points if they are found guilty of breaking transfer rules.

Palios reckons football's chiefs need to make an example of the club over their signing of Argentine Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.

He said: "Following the Carlos Tevez affair it is necessary for a statement to be made and, if QPR are found guilty, it should be 10 points or more.

"There are precedents about fielding an ineligible player, ranging from a small points deduction for clerical errors around the transfer window to more serious situations.

"This is more serious than a minor clerical error so a points deduction is almost certain. QPR have also been charged with seeking to make illegal payments to unauthorised agents and Luton lost 10 points for doing that."

An independent hearing began yesterday into FA charges brought against QPR over the £3.5million purchase of Faurlin from Instituto de Cordoba.

But with a verdict not due until Friday, the Championship play-offs could be thrown into chaos if champions QPR launch a legal challenge.

A 10-point penalty would hand the title to Norwich and condemn QPR, who have denied all charges, to the play-off lottery.

QPR chairman Gianni Paladini had only one comment after yesterday's hearing at Wembley, telling reporters: "I love you." The Sun

The Sun/Andrew Dillon - Hammers go to War for Neil

HWEST HAM are ready to make an audacious move for Neil Warnock.

Boss Avram Grant is running out of time with the team bottom of the Premier League and only three games remaining.

Warnock has just taken QPR back into the big-time by clinching the Championship title but Hammers insiders still reckon a deal could be done to lure the controversial Yorkshireman from West to East London.

QPR's promotion is still undecided with the outcome of the FA disciplinary hearing into illegal third-party dealings over the signing of Alejandro Faurlin not expected until Friday.

Warnock is a hate figure among West Ham fans after he considered a personal lawsuit against the club in the wake of the Carlos Tevez affair.

But an Upton Park source said: "Even if QPR did make it into the Premier League, Warnock's still a target.

"He has a fabulous track record of getting teams promoted and the view is that he'd stand a better chance long-term of managing in the top flight with West Ham than with Rangers, because of the relative sizes of the clubs.

"The fans hate Warnock but if he won a few matches and knocked the team into shape would they still hate him or swallow it and back the team?"

Norwich boss Paul Lambert is also on the West Ham wishlist with Grant looking doomed after just one season.

An official move for Warnock would probably have to wait until the summer should West Ham go down. The Sun

MAIL/Sami Mokbel - Champions QPR plan for top flight despite threat of points deduction

QPR will ignore the threat of being stripped of promotion to the Barclays Premier League by formulating their summer transfer plans this week.

The west London club are also ready to press ahead with at least £3million worth of improvements to Loftus Road to ensure the stadium meets the required standard for the top flight.

Rangers, who have already secured automatic promotion as champions, should discover on Friday whether they will be docked points over the alleged illegal signing of Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in 2009.
On the up: Alejandro Faurlin (left), Neil Warnock (centre) and Adel Taarabt celebrate QPR's promotion

On the up: Alejandro Faurlin (left), Neil Warnock (centre) and Adel Taarabt celebrate QPR's promotion

The hearing started on Tuesday and a hefty deduction could see QPR drop out of the automatic promotion places ahead of Saturday’s final game against Leeds.

But that has not stopped manager Neil Warnock and his backroom team planning for next season.

Warnock, his assistant Mick Jones and first-team coach Keith Curle are due to meet before the weekend as they plot a summer shake-up. The trio will discuss potential targets, as well as which players will be put up for sale.

Warnock will inform members of his squad of their fate in face-to-face meetings next week.

Mikele Leigertwood, Leon Clarke, Gavin Mahon, Gary Borrowdale and Rowan Vine — who are all out on loan — will be made available.

And some of the club’s promotion heroes will also be sweating on their futures.

Top targets: QPR are eyeing moves for Andy Johnson (left) and Jimmy Bullard

The club’s star asset, Adel Taarabt, could leave Loftus Road. The Morocco midfielder has refused to pledge his future to Rangers despite their promotion.

And Sportsmail has learned that Real Madrid are giving serious consideration to a shock £6.5million move for Taarabt, though Bernabeu chiefs view the 21-year-old as more of a long-term project than someone to go straight into their first-team squad.

The inevitable summer departures will help Warnock fund his own swoops.

Tottenham right back Kyle Naughton is a top target, and a deal is already in place for Wayne Routledge to turn his loan from Newcastle into a permanent move.

Ipswich midfielder Jimmy Bullard and Fulham striker Andy Johnson are also early targets for the former Sheffield United boss.

As well as the transfers, Rangers will upgrade their TV gantry and plan to improve the press box and build two new players' lounges. Daily Mail

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