RELEGATED Queens Park Rangers are pinning their hopes of avoiding the twin threats of a £58m fine and expulsion to English football’s fifth tier on a landmark legal challenge.
QPR chiefs hope to avert the huge fine – due for overspending during their promotion back to the top flight in 2013-14 – by challenging the legality of the Football League’s financial fair play (FFP) rules.
They have been in dispute over alleged breaches for six months, but the matter was brought sharply into focus on Sunday when a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City confirmed QPR’s relegation to the Championship.
Neither the club nor league chiefs could say when they expect the process to be concluded, but there is a necessary urgency in determining which division Rangers will play in next season.
“Legal proceedings are ongoing between Queens Park Rangers Football Club and the Football League,” the club said.
“QPR challenges the legality of the Football League’s Championship financial fair play rules and any charge against QPR (if any) for breach of FFP rules shall not be commenced pending the outcome of that challenge. The proceedings are confidential in nature and neither party is entitled to comment upon the proceedings until the independent arbitral panel has delivered its decision.”
This is a test case for FFP rules that were only introduced less than three years ago after 21 of 24 second-tier clubs voted in favour, as well the Football League’s credibility as the enforcing body.
Rangers are believed to have argued that they only made a £9m loss during 2013-14, due to owners writing off £60m in loans. If, as seems likely, that is deemed illegal under FFP they would face a true loss of close to £70m and a resulting fine of £58m.
QPR’s case may be boosted by clubs voting last year to relax the rules, meaning far greater losses than the 2013-14 limit of £8m are permitted. They could argue they should not be held to rules since rejected for being too stringent.