- QPR diminish hopes of staying in EPL when losing 3-2 at Fulham
- Relegation-threatened side now left with just seven games to beat the drop
- Financial concerns mount with January spending looking ever more of a gamble
Queens Park Rangers edged ever closer to relegation from the English Premier League -- and to a financial precipice -- after losing 3-2 at Fulham on Monday night.
The defeat, which came in a game which featured an own goal, a sending off and two penalties, left QPR seven points adrift of safety with only seven games left to play.
Sunday's home clash with fellow relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic will go a long way to determining whether the West London club can avoid the drop -- and so justify the enormous outlay by owner Tony Fernandes in recent times.
Fernandes, who also owns the Air Asia airline, admitted to a sizable gamble when spending over $34 million in January's transfer window, largely on just two players: Loic Remy and Christopher Samba.
On the evidence of Monday's night display at Craven Cottage, the wisdom of these purchases was questionable for the Congolese Samba was at fault for Fulham's first two goals, while also being outmaneuvered for their third, while Remy missed a penalty.
The Frenchman did score later to make it 3-2 and set up a thrilling finale, during which Fulham's Steve Sidwell was sent off, yet the visitors were unable to repair a first half where Dimitar Berbatov was gifted two goals before Clint Hill put the ball into his own net to give Fulham a 3-0 lead.
"We gave away the worst goals I have ever seen in my life," lamented QPR manager Harry Redknapp when talking to Sky Sports after the game.
"Scandalous goals -- a penalty, losing the ball, then the own goal. It was an absolute disaster.
"We got a goal back and came back in the second half and absolutely murdered them. When it went to 3-2, I could only see one winner -- I wouldn't have even taken a draw at that point."
"I was disappointed with the last 10 minutes. Christopher Samba put himself up front and then we started launching balls up and that is not how we play."
January's shopping trip, which included nearly $20 million on the wayward Samba alone, followed on from bringing in even more players during the previous window, when Park Ji-Sung, Jose Bosingwa, Stephane Mbia and former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar were among a host who came in.
Cesar spoke of his desire to win the Premier League and play in the Champions League with his new club, but instead it is the second tier of the English game -- rather than glamor trips to Barcelona and Milan -- that looms.
Perhaps most disconcerting of all for Fernandes is the fact that his club may not be in the Premier League when its biggest television deal comes into play next season -- one which will guarantee even the division's bottom team a minimum $90 million per season.
Last year, the Premier League struck a $4.5 billion deal for domestic television rights in the 2013-2016 period.
That represented a 70% increase on the previous contract, with a separate overseas TV deal set to generate a further $3 billion.
Missing out on this windfall would represent major damage to QPR's projected earnings, especially with the club's annual accounts -- which were released last month -- showing that the club has been spending 91% of its turnover on wages alone.
Factor in that worrying figure with relegation and it's clear to see why the club's economic viability is a concern for so many -- even with the $73 million of parachute payments, which QPR would receive from the Premier League in the four years after relegation.