Mark Warburton admits QPR made a mistake by allowing Eberechi Eze to return to the club to watch their FA Cup tie against Fulham.

The FA have launched a probe after Eze was spotted back at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium on Saturday, sparking accusations that he breached coronavirus guidelines as he went back to see his old club in action.

Warburton said: ‘Yes, absolutely, I understand why there is [upset and anger] because we know the situation society is facing in this country. We are all very aware of it.

Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze was allowed in by QPR in a move they now regret

Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze was allowed in by QPR in a move they now regret

Eze (far left) was a guest of the club but manager Mark Warburton admits it was a mistake

Eze (far left) was a guest of the club but manager Mark Warburton admits it was a mistake

‘QPR as a club have stringent protocols in place that we apply very, very strongly to every single player and staff member.

‘On this occasion we should have declined the request, simple as that. We made the error and know that. Ebere is an outstanding character. I cannot speak highly enough of Eberechi Eze in terms of his character.

‘I believe he was at a game in October, at a game back in August. He’s very close to several members of the squad and staff such is his character but on this occasion I had no idea.

‘He made the request, we should have said no. On this rare occasion we have made the mistake, it’s as plain and simple as that.

The Crystal Palace midfielder was spotted back at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium

Warburton said he understands why some people are angry and upset

The Crystal Palace midfielder was spotted back at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium

‘We should have politely rejected the request for obvious reasons. That mistake was made, it will not happen again.

‘Other than that, the protocols are stringently applied as they have to be right now. Our record amongst the playing squad is exemplary in terms of testing, what we do here and the results as well.

‘So a lot of work here has been done but on this occasion it was a mistake from the club.’

Midfielder Eze, 22, joined Palace from QPR in the summer for £19.5m and returned to see their 2-0 defeat having played against Wolves on Friday night.

The visit went against Government rules to stay at home unless making essential trips

The visit went against Government rules to stay at home unless making essential trips

Suggestions Eze’s visit was approved by the FA have been rebuffed and they are now investigating the matter, which took place just a day after the Premier League wrote to all clubs to remind them of their coronavirus protocols.

QPR could also be in hot water with clubs only allowed a restricted number of directors and scouts to be inside stadiums along with those deemed essential to the game.

Alan Pardew, technical director of CSKA Sofia, was also at the third round tie which Fulham won 2-0 after extra time.

The matter represents a fresh headache for Eagles manager Roy Hodgson following captain Luka Milivojevic’s Covid-19 breach when he attended a New Years’ Eve party.