Fine but no loss of points leaves QPR cock-a-hoop

Queens Park Rangers 1 Leeds United 2: Promotion celebration starts despite guilty verdict on two Faurlin charges – but Swansea may appeal
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The Independent Football

Word began to spread at 11.48am on the streets around Shepherd's Bush and the match announcer told the crowd the good news – 99 per cent of whom surely already knew – at 12.33am, and the loud, joyful party could begin in earnest, in front of the BBC's cameras. Queens Park Rangers were champions and it was official.

No points on a Saturday. It is not often you can say that is a good thing but in QPR's case that was the best news they had heard in the last two weeks. To be precise it was the news that no points would be deducted from the west London club over their purchase of Alejandro Faurlin and with that, their promotion to the Premier League, after 15 years away, was confirmed. No points against Leeds was immaterial.

If there had been a deduction relating to third-party ownership and the agents of the Argentinian, who was bought from Instituto de Cordoba in July 2009, there would have been no championship party in W12. There might not even have been the play-offs. Instead, after four days of legal deliberation, over seven charges, the Hoops and their loyal 16,500 supporters will be in the top division again.

The FA declared, after an independent tribunal, that QPR were guilty on two counts. They have fined them £875,000 but they said there would be no points deducted this season, or next. The only worry for QPR now is that third-placed Swansea may still appeal.

Gianni Paladini, the club's chairman, remained defiant. He said: "We deserve to be where we are. It's been an unfair thing for the last two or three months. We've done nothing wrong. We've won the league twice. I never felt guilty. I was confident our legal people would do a good job."

Neil Warnock, QPR's manager, put this promotion up with the best achievements of his career, but admitted the Faurlin case had taken its toll. He said: "Some of us were in tears in the dressing room when we heard. It's been the hardest seven weeks of my career." Asked if he would be managing the club next season, he said: "I hope my contract's watertight but nothing's impossible in football."

Not to be forgotten was that Leeds came into the match with a slim chance of reaching the play-offs. They had to win, and Nottingham Forest to lose, with a seven-goal swing in goal difference, to take sixth place.

Those hopes lasted all of 28 seconds, which was the time it took for Heidar Helguson to tap in from a yard after Kasper Schmeichel had saved from Tommy Smith. Max Gradel's lob over Radek Cerny, after 38 minutes, and Ross McCormack's deflected goal after 68, were easily forgotten footnotes on QPR's landmark day.

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