Quite a week

Despite the odd dig at newspapers over their coverage of the Alejandro Faurlin affair, Neil Warnock is experienced enough to know how these stories tend to be covered.

Warnock is quick to point out that he isn’t able to comment too much on the issue. There are also limits on how it can be reported.

There are limits partly because, at this stage, it’s a story that’s very difficult to develop and take forward. There isn’t really much that can be added to the statements by the FA and the club. Much of the rest has been based on predictable snippets emanating from QPR this week, or pure speculation.

In some ways it’s comparable to the absolute non-story that was the Football League’s supposed threat to remove Flavio Briatore as Rangers owner.

That one took on a life of its own, despite the fact that there was never any chance whatsoever that Briatore’s status at QPR would be affected (at least by the League) because of his Formula One ban. Anyone who suggested otherwise simply didn’t understand how the club’s ownership worked and was structured.

I say comparable only in some ways, because it was another case of the media chasing its own tail and speculation being taken as fact, but the difference is that this time the issue is real, as is the possibility of a bad outcome for QPR if a verdict goes against them.

I’ve followed Faurlin’s QPR career from the very start, having done the first story that ‘Alejandro Damian Faurlin’ was on his way to London to sign for Rangers, which at the time the club were typically unamused to see appear in the press.

From my time putting that story together, I know that the situation with Faurlin was complicated and confusing, although that is often the case with overseas signings.

I also said soon after the signing went through that Instituto de Córdoba, his club at the time, received little or nothing for him, that the cost of the Faurlin transfer was one of a number of issues on which QPR fans have been misled in recent years, and that the ridiculous price tag was the result of the club’s preoccupation with sticking it to their critics.

Clive Whittingham also touched on that in an excellent article on the LoftforWords website this week, mentioning as well Gianni Paladini’s apparent suggestion on a radio programme that QPR had paid nothing for Faurlin.

Jim Magilton, Rangers’ manager at the time of Faurlin’s signing, was unhappy about the bizarre price tag placed on the player’s shoulders. The whole issue was typically badly handled by a badly-run club, and is just one of a host of examples of how poorly the club has operated since 2005.

It’s also another example of the knots QPR can tie themselves in when looking for short-term approval.

Another was the implication that the ever-popular Mittals had ended the Briatore era, which made Bernie Ecclestone’s subsequent buy-out of Briatore hard for QPR to explain. So they didn’t.

But confusion and incompetence is not the same as breaching FA rules. It’s up to the FA to prove QPR did this, and Rangers to show that they did not.

It’s certainly true that the club are very confident indeed that they have nothing to worry about. They have been keen to put out that message via those willing to report it, and it’s also reflected in Warnock’s comments.

Fans might take some comfort from that. However, since 2005 QPR have been involved in a number of legal cases, disciplinary hearings and the like, have sent out a similar message of absolute, overwhelming confidence, and lost.

That said, there is no doubt that Rangers, with the obvious strength of their owners, are now well placed to fight their corner.

The club is arguably more powerful, and certainly wealthier, than the FA and all the Championship clubs potentially affected by any verdict put together.

An outcome that denied QPR Premier League football would doubtless be challenged beyond when next season is due to start, which would be a nightmare for the authorities for obvious reasons.

It’s been speculated that the reference to “no deliberate wrongdoing” in QPR’s statement suggests they will argue that if any rules were broken, it was unintentionally.

If incompetance is to be part of QPR’s defence, the club should have plenty of supporting evidence to hand, based on events of the last few years.  In fact they might need the length of the Wembley pitch to set out that argument, not merely a room within the stadium.

Paladini’s enemies, and there are plenty of them, will no doubt see all this as his potential nemesis.

On the subject of his enemies, Paladini and his allies have long suspected supposed friends of those he ousted in 2005 of plotting against him. There have been rumours of League and FA investigations into QPR’s dealings long before now.

Paladini has always argued that this, coupled with new rules brought in by the sport’s governing bodies, mean that every aspect of his work has to be absolutely beyond reproach, and any dodgy dealings on his part would be impossible to hide.

And while some of his opponents feel Paladini is finished at QPR regardless of the outcome of the FA charges, they’ve said that before.

They said it in the build-up to the infamous 2005 boardroom battle, which he won. They said it after the outcome of the Dave Morris trial. They said it after the Briatore/Ecclestone takeover. They said it when Iain Dowie, his recommendation to the board, was at loggerheads with Briatore. They said it when Paulo Sousa, a double Champions League winner, was at loggerheads with him. They said it when Paladini relinquished the title of sporting director last year and his future was assessed. And they’ve said it on numerous other occasions too.

If QPR successfully fend off the FA’s charges, or incur a punishment that doesn’t stop them being promoted, it’s perfectly possible that Paladini will emerge much stronger.

You can be certain his supporters will argue that thanks to him Rangers secured a quality player in Faurlin, paid nothing for him, and the signing was so audacious and skilful it made the FA suspicious, perhaps even earned the club a slap on the wrist, but ultimately the deal was sound, showing just what a brilliant operator Paladini is.

The man credited with saving the club – something that drives his enemies to distraction – could then be credited with getting it promoted.

Whatever else Paladini is or isn’t, he’s a survivor. A notorious survivor in a business notoriously difficult to survive in. The list of people he has seen off at QPR proves that.

7 Responses to Quite a week

  1. PJP says:

    It’s SO frustrating haing this hanging over us when we’ve otherwise won ourselves the league.

    I’m grateful that you’re not promising us either a points deduction or that we’ll get off lightly. It’s nice to know you won’t pretend if you don’t know!!

    My gut **ie my guess based on no real knowledge** tells me they will slap us with a 10 point deduction…but only once we’re 15 points clear 😉

  2. HoopsyLoopy says:

    Balanced clear,calm article,David.Like the way you give due homage to Clive Whittingham the best living writer on QPR today. Also so glad you didn’t go into the tedious third-party and crucial timing of the alleged rule-breaking minutiae.
    Too true that for however ‘economical with the verite’,dissembling or Walter Mittyish Paladini can appear he is ultimately a tenacious survivor.

    Perhaps Donald Rumsfeld’s famous 2002 words can bring some light into all these murky ornate Italian agent web-spinning shenanigans:
    ‘There are known knowns ; there are things we know we know.We also know there are known unknowns,that is to say we know there are some things we don’t know.But there are also unknown unknowns,the ones we don’t know we don’t know.’

    Please God & St Jude,don’t take this wonderful season from us.

  3. kevvy says:

    Good article Dave. What is your gut feeling re. The outcome of all of this?

  4. Hi Kevvy, I wouldn’t like to speculate about that. We’ll see what happens.

    HoopsyLoopsy, don’t forget the likes of Dave, Cos and others in A Kick Up The R’s too!

    PJP, I think Rangers might be 15 points clear quite soon actually.

  5. John says:

    Hi Dave… well balanced article!

    I have to admit, I’m one of those football fans (R’s fan) who tries to maintain a completely youthful approach to the game. My earliest memories of football was watching Match of the day, back in the 70’s, with my father. The only night of the week that I was allowed to stay up late!

    Obviously the world was a lot bigger then, and living in Ireland meant that my knowledge of the game was based on Grandstand, match of the day, shoot and Roy of the rovers! I suppose like most other young fans, you didn’t really consider that there was a board, or back room staff, or a ruling authority. Any leaks of a behind the scenes reality check where usually reported in a glamorous lifestyle context, or in an over indulgent context!

    I suppose things have changed and when I read through the “club statement” on the offy, and clicked on the “FA Charges” link, my heart sank and I felt sick in the stomach! This is the stuff that shatters my desire to keep what I love youthful and fantastic!

    Up until the age of 17, when I lived in Ireland, I was a Man U fan, but then moved to London and my first abode was shepherds bush and while I never had any intention of changing allegiances, my first game in the old 1st Division was QPR Vs Forest in 1985. That was that; I was smitten by the mighty R’s and haven’t looked back since! Having said that, as an Irish man I have spent a fair old chunk of time moving back and forth between London and the West of Ireland, and as a consequence I have never experienced success at Loftus Road. I have now settled in west London and have been a season ticket holder for the last four years, and this season is close to becoming my first experience of great joy as an R!

    So…are QPR going to be punished? Are they going to be cleared of these charges? Like you say, there so much speculation out there, but if I am to read between the lines of your article, then I feel that on balance it would be a mistake by the FA to punish QPR at any extreme level (points deduction) as this could result in a lengthy legal battle that could cost both parties a fortune, but also, it would appear that behind closed doors QPR are not whiter than white, so maybe a warning and a fine would be the most amicable outcome, and we can all move on!

    After reading your article, I feel fairly certain that I will experience my first glory as an R, and I will excitedly look forward to the visit of Man U, Chelskie, Arsenal, and Liverpool etc to Loftus Road next season!

    I know many fans love to know all that goes on with the club, in every knock and cranny and I’m grateful for their insight, but dearly hope that any indulgence behind the scenes in the future enable me to maintain my youthful love of football and the Rs.

  6. Great stuff John. It’s for Rangers fans like you that I hope the club moves forward on and off the pitch and re-establishes itself in the Premier League.

  7. […] I can only repeat a couple of points I made on this blog during the week the charges were issued. […]

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