The commission found QPR not guilty of the most serious charges, that they played Faurlín throughout the 2009-10 season, and up to November 2010, when the player’s registration was “owned” not by the club itself, but by a third party, a company, TYP, registered in the US and run from Argentina. Being found guilty of that would have carried severe penalties for the club, but the commission accepted their case that TYP had agreed to suspend their ownership rights throughout Faurlín’s first contract with QPR. The charge of misconduct against the club’s chairman at the time, Gianni Paladini, was found to be unproven.
The club was found guilty of not giving the FA all the documents relating to their agreement with TYP, which did have a serious impact – the FA said had they known of TYP’s interest, they would have wanted the club to buy Faurlín outright. QPR said they would not have done so because the player was untried in England at that point, so the commission said QPR did gain a “sporting advantage” – having Faurlín play for them for free that first season and into November 2010 when they signed him permanently.
But the commission decided not to deduct points, which they stressed is the most drastic possible punishment, primarily because they found the club did not act in bad faith. They also heard from David Pleat, the former long-serving manager and now analyst for the Guardian among others, that a single player like Faurlín cannot determine a match on his own.
“According to Mr Pleat, it is only in exceptional cases, and usually a goalscoring forward such as Lionel Messi, [or] Cristiano Ronaldo, that an individual player can be said to have had a major effect on a team.”
QPR were instead fined £800,000, determined as the difference between what the club would have had to pay, £200,000, had they bought Faurlín in the summer of 2009, and the £1m he was worth after proving himself a sterling player.
QPR were also fined £75,000 for using an agent, the Italian Peppino Tirri, who was licensed by Fifa but not also registered and authorised by the FA at the time.
The written reasons released by the FA shine a light into third-party, commercial ownership of footballers’ registrations, which are said to be common in South America but were outlawed here following the Carlos Tevez-West Ham affair, when Tevez was owned by investors represented by Kia Joorabchian.
Faurlín, the judgment says, was bought outright from his club, Instituto Córdoba, in Argentina’s second tier, for $250,000 on 15 August 2007 by the TYP Sports Agency, which is owned by an Argentinian businessman, Franco Tasco. Tirri, the agent, Faurlín spotted and told QPR about him in May 2009.
Crucially, the deal QPR did was to pay nothing at all for an initial three-year contract, and TYP agreed to suspend their economic rights for the course of that contract. The commission said it was “clearly false” of QPR to have described Faurlín’s signing on their website as “a £3.5m deal”, when they paid nothing at that time, but said it was a matter of opinion whether that was “a lie”, or “a puff” to get the fans excited. Then after Faurlín performed well enough to be QPR’s 2009-10 player of the season, the club agreed to buy him from TYP for $1m (£615,000) – a $750,000 profit for Tasco, not for Córdoba.
When they signed Faurlín outright in the summer of 2010 – the registration process went on until November 2010 – QPR paid Tirri £200,000 as a finder’s fee.
So, what might have been a historic scandal, if points had been deducted and the champions denied promotion, was found to be a story of maladministration, a failure to send all the papers in. It has told us more about young footballers in South America being owned by businessmen rather than clubs, and the profits which can be made in that trade. And about how lucrative being a football agent can be; £200,000 for spotting a player who proves himself good enough at a club in the Championship.
QPR, as a result of this decision, were allowed to go up to the Premier League, where £45m average TV money will pour in. The club, nevertheless, hit a sour note this week by hiking season ticket prices, a reason given by the chairman, Amit Bhatia, for resigning saying he no longer agrees with the club’s direction.
In the middle of it all is Faurlín, the midfield worker, now 24, who arrived in west London from Córdoba at 22, his economic rights owned by the businessman, Tasco.
Of Faurlín, the commission said: “The player, who has had the innocent misfortune to be at the eye of a storm surrounding him, was entirely straightforward and honest, we found.”