QPR pay heavy price for Gillingham fixture postponement

QPR celebrate promotion May 4 2014 (Photo: Kevin Richards)

QPR won the South East Combination last season to win promotion to the Premier League (Photo: Kevin Richards)

An administrative oversight by Queens Park Rangers that caused their Premier League game against Gillingham to be postponed in October has proved costly. They have been docked three points by the FAW Premier League for failing to fulfil the fixture.

It’s a high price to pay for what the club said was an oversight in relation to a county FA matter: the only reason the FAWPL became involved was that Rangers’ temporary suspension by the Middlesex FA prevented them playing the game at Gillingham on October 5.

The “oversight”, believed to be a modest financial issue, was rectified on the next working day, but too late to enable the club to fulfil the Gillingham fixture.

Related story:
Rangers suspension forces Gillingham postponement

Now the FAWPL has rejected Rangers’ appeal against a three-point deduction it imposed in the wake of the postponement, and the points from the club’s 2-1 victory over Lewes yesterday are effectively wiped out in an instant.

Rangers issued a brief statement on their website, confirming the punishment and rejection of their subsequent appeal, but said they would be making no further comment.

The FAWPL imposed the penalty for a breach of Rule 10 (F) (i) of the FA’s Standard Code of Rules, relating to failure to fulfil fixtures.

An FA spokesman told Sent Her Forward the FAWPL Committee had a choice of sanctions open to it, ranging from a fine to awarding points to the opposition. “[The committee] deemed [the points deduction] was the appropriate penalty,” a spokesman explained.

The deduction plunges QPR into the fight for survival in the Premier League at an exciting time for the league, when the door is open – temporarily at least – for its members to win promotion to the Super League.

Rangers drop one place to ninth, but crucially, the three points they have lost leave them just five above Copsewood Coventry, who are second-to-bottom, with just over half the season remaining, although they still remain comfortably clear of bottom club Keynsham Town.

The FA spokesman said the points would not be awarded to Gillingham, as the fixture is to be rearranged, although no date has yet been allocated on the FA’s Full-Time website for the rescheduled match.

And the spokesman could not explain why the FAWPL opted for the points deduction rather than one of the other options, other than to say: “They are considered on a case-by-case basis, and this was the sanction they deemed appropriate.”

While QPR say they are not commenting, there can be little doubt that the deduction is a severe blow to the club, who were promoted from the South East Combination at the end of last season.

Their victory over Lewes yesterday was celebrated enthusiastically – and with some relief – by players, officials and fans alike after losing four of their previous five league matches, underlining what a significant boost those three points had given them.

Now they must rally again, building on yesterday’s win, and put the blow of the points deduction behind them.

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