With one round to go and QPR having secured an automatic promotion spot, you can be forgiven for wondering why you can still get 1.33 odds on QPR to be promoted into the English Premier League.
The reason is that QPR is currently under investigation by the English Football Association (FA) over the 2009 signing of Alejandro Faurlin. The charges concern an alleged agreement between QPR and a third party regarding Faurlin’s economic rights, as well as the alleged failure by the club to notify the FA of the agreement. According to the BBC: “The club has also been charged with allegedly using or seeking to pay an unauthorised agent as part of the Faurlin deal, while both the club and chairman Gianni Paladini have further been charged with allegedly submitting false information in documents provided to the FA relating to a contract extension signed by Faurlin in October.”
QPR denies the charges. The hearing, which commenced on Tuesday, is expected to be completed on the eve of the final round of the Championship this weekend. A guilty verdict would likely involve a hefty fine, but also a possible points penalty.
Should QPR face a points deduction they will most likely appeal the decision. This would require rescheduling the playoffs if QPR end up in a playoff position. The first legs of the playoff semi finals are currently scheduled for the 12th and 13th of May, but the FA could delay the games until the week beginning the 16th of May in the event of a QPR appeal.
Based on BBC reports, a points deduction seems highly probable, with 10 points and 15 points the most likely deductions. Of the two, 15 points appears to be the more likely penalty. Below are three points table scenarios. Scenario 1 is the current Championship table with no QPR penalty. Scenarios 2 and 3 reflect the adjusted Championship league standings should QPR be deducted 10 and 15 points, respectively. Note that each team has one more game to play before the end of the regular season.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Championship promotion rules, the top two sides are automatically promoted. The teams ranked 3rd through 6th play each other in home and away legs (3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5), but without the away goals rule. The two winning teams then play each other at Wembley Stadium for the third promotion place. Norwich have guaranteed promotion, with the second automatic promotion spot still up for grabs should QPR be docked points. In English football, a win is worth 3 points, and a draw is worth 1 point.
Interestingly, a 10 points deduction wouldn’t rule out the possibility of automatic promotion, because QPR could overtake Cardiff in the final round to take second place. Having said that, both Cardiff and Swansea would back in the picture for automatic promotion, creating a three-way battle for the second spot.
A 15 point deduction would guarantee that QPR ended up in the dreaded playoffs for the final promotion place. The final round of fixtures would simply determine QPR’s opponent in the playoff semi finals. The second automatic promotion spot would go to either Cardiff or Swansea.
Below are the final fixtures of the round for the promotion candidates. The current league standings for each team are provided in brackets:
Saturday, 7 May 2011
12:45 PM local time, 9:45 PM AEST
Burnley (9) v Cardiff (3)
Crystal Palace (20) v Nottingham Forest (6)
Norwich (2) v Coventry (17) <-- this fixture has no implications for the playoffs QPR (1) v Leeds (7)
Reading (5) v Derby (19)
Swansea (4) v Sheffield Utd (22)
If QPR are deducted points they will not relish facing a Leeds side that still has everything to play for. Cardiff face a tough away fixture against a club that has just missed out on a playoff spot, while Swansea will take on a side that is only playing for pride, having already been relegated from the Championship.
Promotion Betting Implications
Three clubs that stand out to me are QPR, Cardiff and Swansea, who all have a shot at automatic promotion, depending on QPR’s hearing. If QPR are not penalised points and you have backed Cardiff or Swansea, then at least you have a second chance with the playoffs. Similarly, if you back QPR and they are deducted 15 points, you also have a second chance with them in the playoffs. If I were forced to choose between Cardiff and Swansea, I would be inclined to back Swansea. They have a better goal difference and, on paper, an easier final fixture. Furthermore, Swansea come into the final round on the back of two wins, while Cardiff were beaten 0-3 at home in the penultimate round. If Swansea wins and Cardiff loses or draws at Burnley, then a 15 point deduction for QPR would see Swansea gain automatic promotion.
Another team to pay attention to is Nottingham Forest. With four wins in the last five games, they have the best form of any team in the playoff picture, and the playoffs are all about form.
Note that Betfair is one of the few places where you can still bet on Championship promotion. Most bookmakers have ceased betting until the QPR charges are settled.
At the end of the day, you’re betting on both football and an FA hearing. It certainly has livened up the final round of the English Championship! As many have pointed out, the QPR verdict could pave the way for two Welsh teams to play in the English Premier League next season. Fox Sports 3 will be airing one of the final fixtures live, but at the time of writing, the fixture has yet to be determined.