Sunday's defeat at Manchester City sent Queen's Park Rangers down, and with eight players over 30 at the end of their contracts, where will they go now?
The 6-0 capitulation at the Etihad Stadium carried an air of inevitability and for many weeks speculation has surrounded how QPR will cope with the financial burdens of relegation from the Barclays Premier League. This is in light of an expected £60m fine from the Football League, which has been held back from when Rangers breached Financial Fair Play regulations in gaining promotion in 2013-14.
Now it appears that - despite the significant assistance of parachute payments from the Premier League - QPR must re-address their squad structure and transfer policies as they acclimatise to life back in the Sky Bet Championship. A huge turnover of players in and out of the club has paid dividends with two short spells in the Premier League, but the gamble on utilising high paid established players to achieve stability has failed. Now, with eight players over 30 coming to the end of their contracts, and the financial burden of the FFP fine, it is surely time to take stock and turn to a youth structure and more considered squad building?
In the meantime, chairman Tony Fernandes must make decisions on a raft of established stars who in the twilight of their careers may be hanging on to the forlorn hope of another contract at the club. But with talk of troublesome factions within the dressing room at Loftus Road, a clean sweep could be on the cards, including contracted players in addition to those approaching the end of lucrative deals.
The over 30s hanging around the exit door at QPR are:
Joey Barton (32)
Barton has shown before he is willing to play in the Championship, having been a key figure in the promotion campaign of 2013-14. With that in mind, Championship clubs may take a punt on the controversial Scouser, but his wage demands may be more suited to a lower-half Premier League club. Either way, you expect QPR will need to remove a high earner from their wage bill.
Richard Dunne (35)
The veteran centre half may be able to get a one-year contract at a Championship club, if QPR decide they can't offer the same, but if the former Irish international - who has played virtually all his career in the top flight - doesn't get an offer that fully motivates him, you can see a retirement announcement on the horizon.
Rio Ferdinand (36)
A free transfer from Manchester United last summer always carried question marks and 12 appearances this season back up the opinion that it never looked like it would work out for Ferdinand at QPR. With the tragic personal issues that have beset the former England international in recent days, it would seem his glittering career has more than likely reached its end.
Shaun Wright-Phillips (33)
Just 43 starts in four seasons at Loftus Road pretty much sums up the career of Shaun Wright-Phillips, which has spectacularly flattered to deceive. Five appearances this season resulted in showdown talks with previous manager Harry Redknapp, but nothing resulted from them, and although Wright-Phillips received various loan offers he chose not to take them. Doubtless he will get offers again now he is a free agent, but many clubs will be wary of his faltering status and huge salary demands.
Karl Henry (32)
33 appearances in the Premier League last season suggest that a club in the top flight may make a tempting offer to the former Wolves man. Henry has plenty of experience in the top division and it would be a surprise if he is not picked up, although clubs will be wary of his association with Wolves' relegation in 2012 and the potential for him to become 'third time unlucky'.
Clint Hill (36)
A stalwart performer through QPR's last two promotion campaigns from the Championship, Hill's influence has faded in the Premier League, and with just 18 starts to his name last season it would be a surprise if QPR offer him the opportunity to taste promotion glory for a third time. Indeed, unless he fancies a stint as a Championship veteran elsewhere, Hill may feel his time is up altogether.
Brian Murphy (32)
With just two QPR appearances under his belt in four years at the club, the Irish goalkeeper has done little to prove he is worth another contract. But behind the scenes people may feel he represents the low-salary/high loyalty ethic that the club should now be promoting.
Bobby Zamora (34)
Of all the out-of-contract players, Zamora is perhaps the one that the QPR hierarchy are most likely to make an offer to. Zamora is proven at Championship level, and even at 34 he will not be without offers from some promotion-chasing clubs. Whether he would get an offer from a Premier League club is open to debate, with the Championship looking like his natural level in the twilight of his career.