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How Cruel Can Sport Be to a Fan?

There is a small football (or soccer for our US readers) in West London called Queens Park Rangers.

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During the 1970s and 1990s the club enjoyed relative success playing attractive football without ever really converting style into trophies.

With a small support QPR’s success has in the past been driven by good management and rich owners willing to fund that management on the pitch.

Having been a founding member of the Premier League in the early 1990s, disaster struck in 1996 and the club where relegated from the top tier of English football.

For over 10 years the club lurched from one disaster to another.

The list is long and the luck bad. Relegation to the third tier of English football, being put into administration and surviving after players where bought by a couple of fans.

There was also a takeover attempt involving a gun being put to the head of the then chairman.

The loss in a cup game to the works team of GM-owned Vauxhall Motors.

There was an international incident with China following a mass brawl with China’s under 23 team in a friendly game.

Then tragically, the death of a highly rated teenager who could now be a leading star of the game.

Now I must make an important disclosure, I am a long-suffering QPR fan.

Having grown up with my team being relatively good for the majority of my life QPR have been a laughing stock, forced to accept the scorn of fans of Chelsea, Arsenal and virtually anyone who bothered to have a laugh at our expense.

A couple of years ago things began to change.

The club was bought by Italian millionaire Flavio Briatore and Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

If that was not exciting enough Indian Steel magnate and Britain’s richest man, Lakshmi Mittal and his family took a stake in the club.

With billionaire’s now backing the club the good times had to be just around the corner.

But despite spending some money Flavio Briatore could not stop meddling in team affairs, sacked numerous managers and led fans to believe the club was jinxed.

With the results disappointing and Briatore public enemy number one the Italian was forced out with the Mittal family all but taking control of running the club despite being minority stake holders.

With the hire of an experienced manager called Neil Warnock and the signing of a talented young Moroccan player called Adel Taarabt, results began to improve before in the current season the team played some of the best football in years to be crowned champions with a ticket back to the highly lucrative Premier League the prize.

Sounds like a win, so why are you boring us with this story about soccer?, you might ask.

The problem is that we signed an Argentinean player called Alejandro Faurlin when Briatore was still running the club in a deal that could very well have broken the rules on third party ownership (Soccer players are owned by their clubs and can be bought and sold by clubs but the rules in the UK mean a third party cannot hold the rights to a player).

On Monday, 48 hours after the last game of the season at which at which we should be celebrating a brilliant season, soccer’s governing body the Football Association could decide to dock up to 15 points from the club in a move that would rob us of promotion, force us into a play-off which we would surely lose knowing our luck and result in the loss of our star player.

This might not happen, QPR could just be fined and slapped on the wrists, but being a QPR fan has made me fear the worst.

With QPR I get an answer on Friday the May 6, I am expecting the worst, but ready for a cruel decision that could mean another 15 years of hurt.