/ Soccer

Scottish club fail in appeal against transfer embargo

Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2012 07:23

The future of Rangers remains very much up in the air
The future of Rangers remains very much up in the air

Rangers' administrators, Duff and Phelps, suggested they would explore further ways of challenging sanctions against the club after they lost their appeal against a 12-month transfer embargo and £160,000 fine.

Rangers were punished by an Scottish Football Association judicial panel last month but had hoped to overturn the decision at yesterday's appellate tribunal hearing.

But in findings released by the SFA, the club were told they had no grounds for reversing the decision.

Duff and Phelps hit back within the hour to register their disappointment at the ruling.

Paul Clark, joint administrator, said: "The decision by the appellate tribunal to uphold the sanction, namely the suspension of registration of players for one year, is not competent in the view of the club and its legal advisers.

"Such a sanction was not available to the tribunal and should not have been imposed and it is the intention of the club to challenge the determination.

"The club will consider seeking review of this most disappointing decision and it is a matter of regret that the certainty and finality Rangers sought on this matter has not been achieved. Everyone at Rangers is bitterly disappointed and dismayed at this outcome."

Charles Green, the former Sheffield United chief executive at the head of the consortium that has agreed to purchase the club, was frustrated by the developments but backed any future appeal.

"Our group went into the purchase of the club with this sanction in place but we hoped the decision would at least be commuted," he said.

"We fully support the club as it considers an appeal against this latest decision."

The hearing, which was chaired by Lord Carloway and also included Spartans chairman Craig Graham and former Partick Thistle chairman Allan Cowan, heard the Ibrox club's representations through Richard Keen QC.

The tribunal's full report will be published at a later but it released several key points by way of summary.

They included the following observations: "It was competent for the disciplinary tribunal to impose the additional sanction of prohibiting registrations of any new players of 18 years or older for a period of 12 months.

"The disciplinary tribunal was correct to determine that the conduct involved - especially the deliberate non-payment of very large sums, estimated in excess of £13m of tax in the form of PAYE, NIC and VAT - was attributable to the club as a member of the Scottish FA.

"Although the appellate tribunal has listened carefully to the representations from Rangers FC about the practical effects of the additional sanction, it has concluded that this sanction was proportionate to the breach, dissuasive to others and effective in the context of serious misconduct, bringing the game into disrepute."

Rangers fear the inability to sign and register senior players for a full year would be debilitating to their on-field prospects, but the panel concluded that they had sufficient resources already at their disposal to remain viable.

"The appellate tribunal recognises that the disciplinary tribunal decision does not affect Rangers' ability to extend the contracts of existing professional players, including those whose contracts will expire at the end of this season and including also those currently on loan to other clubs," the statement continued.

"The appellate tribunal observes that Rangers FC have over 40 professional players in this category."

When the punishment was initially handed down, Rangers were found guilty of five charges in relation to their financial affairs and appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman.

Rangers received the ban and the bulk of their fine mainly because of a disrepute charge born of their non-payment of more than £13million in taxes since Whyte took over David Murray's shareholding in May last year.

Whyte, who made no representation at the three-day hearing, was given a lifetime ban from Scottish football and fined #200,000 but has told the SFA the punishment will have no impact on his life.
The SFA also published the judicial panel's rationale for their punishment in a lengthy document last Friday.