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Old 17th May 2012, 10:42   #1
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Default Rangers suffer appeal blow

Rangers set to continue fight against transfer ban after appeal is rejected by the Scottish Football Association

By Roddy Forsyth, Scottish Football Correspondent
12:54AM BST 17 May 2012

Rangers were dealt a potentially lethal blow on Wednesday night when their appeal against a 12-month transfer embargo was rejected.

The Scottish Football Association’s appeals tribunal rejected the club’s claims that Rangers were being punished unduly – they were also fined £160,000 – for the financial misdeeds of Craig Whyte, who withheld £13million of PAYE and VAT which had been deducted at source and should have been paid to HMRC.

The decision poses a serious threat to the consortium, fronted by the former chief executive of Sheffield United, Charles Green – and said to consist of 20 investors yet to be identified – whose declared aim is to get a creditors’ agreement next month, which would allow the club to come out of administration in time for the start of next season.

In a summary of reasons for rejecting Rangers’ pleas, the appeal tribunal – headed by Scottish judge, Lord Carloway – declared that it had been 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.

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

The appeals panel also said that the disciplinary tribunal was correct to rule that the maximum fine of £100,000 for such misconduct was inadequate in this case and that an additional sanction was justified.

The disciplinary tribunal could have expelled Rangers from the Scottish game or suspended its membership of the SFA – to the same effect - which would have had obvious consequences for the survival of the club. This was ruled out as being too severe.

Rangers had protested about the practical effects of the transfer embargo, but the appeals panel concluded that this sanction was proportionate to the breach and a deterrent to others – especially in the context of serious misconduct, bringing the game into disrepute. The appeals panel noted that Rangers could still extend the contracts of existing players, including those whose contracts will expire at the end of this season plus those currently on loan to other clubs – and that the club had a squad totalling 40 players in these categories.

However, when Rangers went into administration, the players took wage cuts of up to 75 per cent to permit the club to fulfil its fixtures until the end of the season. The quid pro quo was that their salaries would be restored on June 1 or they could move to other clubs without impediment.

There are already signs that some are likely to choose the second option and the dismissal of Rangers’ appeal means that they cannot be replaced by any signing over the age of 18. The club’s administrators, Duff & Phelps, issued a statement condemning the decision and challenging its competency, while adding that they would mount a further challenge to the sanctions.

The statement read: “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 said: "Our group went into the purchase of the club with this sanction in place but we hoped the decision would at least be commuted. We fully support the club as it considers an appeal against this latest decision."

Sandy Jardine, spokesman for the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, added: "Rangers supporters will be shocked and bitterly disappointed by this decision and will find it hard to take that the club has been so heavily punished for the actions of individuals."
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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