Championship Analysis – QPR home and dry but Faurlin case still hangs over Warnock

Neil Warnock may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is difficult not to sympathise with the QPR boss at the moment. The Hoops finally secured the Championship title at Watford on Saturday but despite the wild celebrations in the dressing room and amongst the visiting faithful at Vicarage Road, Warnock probably wasn’t enjoying it as much as everyone else.

The Alejandro Faurlin saga refuses to leave the public eye, and reports in The Sun during the week claiming that the club could be docked as many as 15 points over the Argentine’s 2009 signing and third-party ownership – against FA rules – left Warnock understandably seething.

The newspaper’s sources are dubious and even the FA have categorically distanced themselves from the story. It is just a shame they could not have acted as quickly over the case in the first place. It is due to be heard this coming Friday, just a day before the final round of fixtures – a laughable scenario considering the FA claimed they would push for the earliest date possible when the story broke in March.

Should QPR be found guilty of the seven charges relating to the case, a punishment of sorts would be justified, but the timing is ludicrous and surely Warnock et al should not be denied their first crack at the Premier League for 15 years at such a late stage.

In 2007 West Ham avoided a points deduction that would have seen them relegated from the Premier League instead of Sheffield United after being found guilty of a similar charge relating to the signing of Carlos Tevez. Warnock managed the Blades at the time and will be hoping the gods smile on him on Friday.

Away from the soap opera at Loftus Road, Monday evening provides a mouth-watering double header as promotion-chasing Cardiff and Norwich take on Middlesbrough and Portsmouth respectively in staggered kick-offs. The Bluebirds host Boro at 5.15pm and will leapfrog the Canaries – temporarily at least – if they win. However, defeat would allow Norwich, currently one point ahead, to seal second place if they win at Fratton Park in a 7.45pm kick-off.

This intriguing scenario arose by chance as Norwich were originally due to play their game on Saturday, only for the fixture to be moved in March for live television coverage, which was already the case for Cardiff’s clash. Regardless of fate, it provides a great opportunity for Premier League fans to see their team’s potential opposition next season, and the entertainment value should be sky-high with so much at stake.

However, there is still a slim possibility Swansea could hijack the party in the unlikely event both teams lose on Monday and then again on the final day. The Swans host Sheffield United and have a good enough goal difference to overtake their fellow challengers.

Just below, Reading are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs, and Nottingham Forest will almost certainly clinch the last place, being three points clear of seventh-placed Leeds and possessing what should be a decisively superior goal difference, helped by a 5-1 thrashing of Scunthorpe on Saturday.

Scunny’s humiliation confirmed their relegation and Sheffield United will join them in League One after failing to beat Barnsley, though neither would have survived with wins regardless after Doncaster and Crystal Palace picked up a point each.

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