Beat around the Bush

“JUST when you thought it was safe to go back into the water.” Queens Park Rangers are once again proving that drama never roams too far from W12 – despite the outward positivity of late, a development behind the scenes has caused quite a stir.

It was almost inevitable that something would attempt to derail the Rangers freight train that seems to have coasted unhindered for the vast majority of the campaign. Only four defeats and sitting pretty at the summit is somewhat unchartered territory for QPR in recent years.

The inevitable bombshell was dropped last week when it emerged that the club would face charges relating to the legitimacy of the Alejandro Faurl�n transfer. The deal, in July 2009, certainly raised eyebrows at the time, being reported as worth �3.5m for penny-pinching Rangers.

The timing is comical, but altogether typical, and it is that element of the equation that takes paramount importance at this stage.

A swift decision has been mooted, with media hysteria pointing towards the possibility of a points deduction.

These are two factors that I do not think can go hand in hand – the charges relating to third-party ownership are destined to stumble across many complexities in the deal. Taking into account also Rangers’ right to appeal against any penalty, the league could be shrouded in mystery for many weeks to come.

What are the probable outcomes? A points deduction at this stage would be dramatic and set a previously unfounded precedent, with the likes of Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers licking their lips at the prospect of such a lifeline.

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What is the likelihood of this, however? The only loosely-related precedent in this case would be the Carlos Tevez affair, which ironically saw Neil Warnock embroiled on the other side of the fence. Despite the subtle differences, the emphasis in this instance seems to be on the allegation of falsifying of documents.

West Ham United escaped a points deduction, which proved to be decisive in the final reckoning and, despite the coverage to the contrary, it would be surprising if it was any different for QPR – despite an ominous figure of nine individual counts.

The time constraints on the FA cannot be understated – do they act rashly and over/under punish, or wait and face the wrath of the chasing pack, and indeed the Football League, who will not know their schedule for the play-offs?

This situation seems sure to rumble on as Loftus Road continues to throw up storylines that could previously only be dreamt up on the big screen. As the initial line suggests, matters are never smooth sailing at QPR.