GLASGOW (AFP) –
The administrators of crisis-club Rangers urged the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to hold an “immediate” appeals process after they hit the Glasgow giants with a shock 12-month transfer embargo.
Rangers were also fined a total of £160,000 ($258,000) by the SFA late on Monday while controversial owner Craig Whyte was handed fines totalling £200,000 and given a lifetime ban from any involvement in Scottish football.
But with Rangers desperate for a new owner, it is the transfer embargo which most worries those trying to sell the club as it makes the 140-year-old football institution a far less attractive proposition.
Administrators Duff and Phelps were called in on February 14 after British tax authorities went to court to seek payment of an unpaid bill of £9 million ($14 million) built up since owner Whyte took charge at Ibrox in May.
But, according to a report by the firm released earlier this month, Rangers’ total debt could amount to £134m, with the 140-year-old club awaiting the outcome of a tax tribunal case that could cost them £75m.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said Tuesday: “We have today written to the chief executive of the SFA requesting an immediate expedited appeals process over the sanctions imposed on Rangers by the Association’s judicial panel last night.
“The decision of last night’s judicial panel is in our opinion quite extraordinary.
“The decision to prohibit the club from signing new players is akin to a court ordering the administrator of a trading company not to buy stock.
“The principal operating and trading asset of a football club are its players and an inability to sign new players frustrates both the ability of the company to trade and the statutory objectives of administration.
“By failing to provide clarity in relation to pragmatic and commercially sensible penalties the authorities are by default prejudicing the survival of one of the clubs whose existence is key to the well being of Scottish football.”
The SFA’s chief executive Stewart Regan responded to the criticism from Rangers by stressing the team’s punishment was decided by an independent three-member panel in conjunction with the disciplinary procedures approved unanimously by clubs less than a year ago.
“I can fully understand the fear and frustration felt by all Rangers fans throughout the most difficult period in the club’s history,” Regan said.
“The Scottish FA has a responsibility to all its members and must implement its rules without fear or favour.
“Rangers have been part of the fabric of Scottish football’s history and are integral to its future prosperity.
“The Scottish FA must act with integrity and with the best interests of the game at heart. It is with this in mind that we await any appeal from the club.”
Entering administration meant Rangers were docked 10 points — a move that effectively conceded the Scottish Premier League (SPL) title they held at the start of the season to arch Glasgow rivals Celtic, recently crowned champions.
US businessman Bill Miller and the Blue Knights group led by former Rangers director Paul Murray are still vying to buy the club after Singapore’s Bill Ng scrapped his £20 million offer last week in frustration at the bidding process.