Neil Warnock was in tears at the news his Queens Park Rangers side could finally celebrate promotion to the Barclays Premier League.
QPR got their hands on the npower Championship trophy, a week after they clinched it, following the Football Association’s announcement this morning that they would not be docked points over the Alejandro Faurlin affair.
The club were instead fined £875,000 after being found guilty of two of the seven charges facing them surrounding the alleged third-party ownership of the Argentine midfielder.
Once fears of potential 15-point penalty were not realised, a belated promotion party began and could not even be spoiled by a 2-1 defeat against Leeds.
“Over the last seven weeks or eight weeks I have never had such a tough task, so to steer us through is the best job I’ve done,” said Warnock, toasting the seventh promotion of his career.
“To deal with it without being able to comment has been difficult, especially for me!
“A lot of the lads, myself included, were in tears in the dressing room when we heard.
“Everyone, one by one, went up to Alejandro and hugged him. It was great.”
The FA have been heavily criticised for not hearing the case until the final week of the season and then delaying the verdict, leaving the club sweating on the outcome long after they had secured promotion.
Yet somehow, their timing was impeccable as an hour before kick-off, the news from Wembley filtered through and suddenly Loftus Road was rocking.
Midfielder Shaun Derry said: “When we heard it was more relief than anything else, it gave us such a lift.
“We were worried but we were given assurances, although when it’s nagging in the back of your mind it’s awful.”
Rangers chairman Gianni Paladini, the man who brought Faurlin to west London in 2009, told the BBC: “After so many years, we deserve to be where we are.
“A lot of unfair things have been going on. We did nothing wrong. But it’s all over now.
“I never felt guilty about anything because I did nothing wrong.”
The fine is a drop in the ocean compared to the fortunes promotion will bring, and certainly small change to their billionaire co-owner Bernie Ecclestone.
The Grand Prix chief, speaking in Turkey ahead of tomorrow’s race, said: “It would have been terrible if it had been anything else. It wouldn’t have been fair, so I think they (the FA) have acted correctly with what they’ve done.”
As a backdrop to the off-field drama, a football match eventually broke out at Loftus Road.
It is not often a club with a recent history as calamitous at that of Leeds become merely a sideshow – after all, they know a thing or two about having points deducted themselves.
The Yorkshire side had in fact travelled south still harbouring slim hopes of a play-off place.
That looked even more unlikely after just 27 seconds, however, when Heidar Helguson tapped Rangers ahead.
However, Max Gradel hauled them level when he lobbed Radek Cerny and Ross McCormack hit a deflected leveller in the second half.
However, Nottingham Forest’s win at Crystal Palace means another season outside the top flight for Simon Grayson’s men.
“Obviously we are disappointed not to make the play-offs,” said Grayson.
“We have beaten the champions twice this season which is a testament to my players, but congratulations to QPR.”