As mentioned in this space earlier this spring, an otherwise glorious 2010-2011 season for QPR has seen the West London club emerge from all manner of ownership/management discord and find themselves on the brink of a long awaited return to England’s top flight.  “Otherwise”, because Rangers face heavy penalties if the Football Association determines playing midfielder Alejandro Faurlin (above) while the Argentinian’s contract was owned by a third party justifies knocking the Super Hoops off their perch. Under the circumstances, you can’t blame When Saturday Comes’ Andy Ryan for looking past tonight’s match with Derby County.

Rangers fans divide into three camps on this issue. Firstly, there are the optimists who are so swept up by euphoria and a belief that “this is our season” that they refuse to believe that we will end up with anything worse than a gentle slap on the wrist. Then there are the pessimists, hardened by years of underachievement and suspicious of how well this year was going. Now they have found their hitch. They talk ominously (and without evidence) about the FA wanting to set an example.

I’m a member of the final group, the “don’t-knows”. I am fairly sure that we are guilty of something; the FA’s investigation appears to have been thorough and chairman Gianni Paladini has a reputation that could be reasonably described as colourful. The decision to delay the judgement until May 6 makes a points deduction seem unlikely. Surely the FA would not want to alter the league table on the day before the final fixtures? Yet the FA has long had its own perverse logic.

I can sympathise with the irritation of some of our rivals as Alejandro Faurlin is a vital player. In addition, I think the FA are right to take a strong line against the unattractive idea of third-party ownership. But here is a huge gulf between a fine and a substantial points deduction. The former is a slight annoyance for wealthy owners while the latter overturns the outcome of a 46-game season. When creating these regulations, the FA failed to be specific enough about when points deductions will apply. Whatever decision they come to will now seem arbitrary. One thing is certain – the lawyers are getting ready for the long-haul.