Ally McCoist disgusted by death threats to SFA Panel

McCoist disgusted by threats to SFA Panel but defends demand for transparency

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UPDATED:

09:56 GMT, 26 April 2012

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has defended his calls for transparency regarding the Scottish Football Association's judicial panel and insists his comments were not a signal for fans to engage in threatening behaviour.

The SFA revealed on Wednesday night that Strathclyde Police have given security advice to the three members of the independent panel after their identities were revealed.

McCoist had demanded the trio be named after the administration-hit club were handed a 160,000 fine and a 12-month embargo on signing players for bringing the game into disrepute since owner Craig Whyte's takeover last May.

Rash demand: Rangers manager Ally McCoist called for the panel to be named

Rash demand: Rangers manager Ally McCoist called for the panel to be named

In a statement released this morning, McCoist said: 'I would not for one moment want anyone to interpret my remarks as a signal to engage in any form of threatening behaviour.

'Such activity disgusts me and anyone who engages in it does Rangers Football Club nothing but harm. No Rangers supporter should get themselves involved in it – not now nor at any time.'

On Monday, Rangers were found guilty of five charges in relation to their finances and the appointment of Whyte as chairman.

Speaking after the ruling, McCoist claimed the sanctions could kill the stricken Glasgow giants and demanded to know who had delivered the verdict.

However, in a statement last night the SFA said that the three panel members in question had been subjected to 'abusive and threatening communication' after their identities were 'compromised'.

McCoist said: 'I would like to make quite clear my position in relation to the decision by the SFA's judicial panel which earlier this week imposed sanctions against Rangers which have far reaching consequences for our club and Scottish football.

'I firmly believe that decisions of this magnitude should be fully transparent and everyone should have confidence in the system that has been created to deliver such a finding.

'When I called for full transparency on Tuesday I took the view that the decision by the judicial panel should be subject to proper scrutiny. It is unthinkable in any walk of life that such a significant punishment would be meted out without full transparency.

Targeted: Officers were summoned to Hampden after identities were exposed

Targeted: Officers were summoned to Hampden after identities were exposed

'I fully understand that there are difficult decisions to be taken in football and they will never suit everyone but in this day and age clarity and transparency are surely of paramount importance.'

Rangers administrators Duff and Phelps have already called for a swift appeal hearing and fear the punishment could further hamper hopes of naming a preferred bidder, with American tycoon Bill Miller and the Blue Knights still in the running to take over the club.

McCoist added: 'Our focus has got to be firmly on ensuring that the club's case in appealing the sanctions imposed on us is put forward robustly and in the appropriate manner.

'Rangers Football Club was a victim of what happened during the tenure of Craig Whyte. The club was not an accomplice, a co-conspirator nor a perpetrator of wrongdoing.

'We suffered from it and still are. I hope that our appeal can be dealt with by the SFA as quickly as possible as the situation for the club and the possible ramifications for Scottish football are very serious.'

Rangers fans' groups have raised the prospect of protests outside Hampden and boycotts of SFA sponsors, while calling on players to boycott the national team.

Police were called into Hampden to deal with threats issued against the men responsible for hitting Rangers with a one-year transfer ban.

And the entire judicial panel system has been thrown into turmoil after one of the volunteers 'outed' by internet thugs was pushed to the brink of resignation by the ugly backlash.

Rangers man: McCoist celebrates a goal against rivals Celtic

Rangers man: McCoist celebrates a goal against rivals Celtic

Following a rash public demand by McCoist that the SFA name the individuals who sat in judgment on the insolvent Ibrox club, the identities of all three were published on message boards and via social network sites.

All three panel members, as well as directors of the SFA, have now reported receiving abusive and threatening communications – threats considered serious enough to merit action by Strathclyde Police.

An SFA spokesperson, pointing the finger firmly at whoever leaked the identities of the independent judges, said: 'We are deeply concerned that the safety and security of Judicial Panel members appointed to a recent Tribunal has been compromised by a wholly irresponsible betrayal of confidential information.

'The Judicial Panel consists of volunteers from across the spectrum of sport and business in Scotland. They are appointed on the basis of anonymity, yet all three panel members have reported intrusion into their lives, including abusive and threatening communication.

Suffer: McCoist says Rangers are suffering from, but not responsible for, wrongdoing

Suffer: McCoist says Rangers are suffering from, but not responsible for, wrongdoing

'This has been extended to directors of the Scottish FA. It culminated tonight in a visit by police, who are taking seriously the threats made.'

It is understood that one of the three is considering his position and has revealed he has received advice from Special Branch regarding suspect packages.

The individual also released a statement saying: 'I can't discuss anything about the case for reasons of confidentiality.

'I hope that, when the statement of reasons is published by the SFA, responsible people will understand the reasons for the decision.

'I have no axe to grind with any football club.'

Former Rangers owner Sir David Murray's company has been ordered, meanwhile, to hand over all paperwork relating to the takeover by Craig Whyte.

Administrators Duff & Phelps are suing legal firm Collyer Bristow for 25million over their handling of the buy-out and the Court of Session has been told Murray will provide all e-mails, faxes, file notes concerning the deal.

RANGERS NOT EXEMPT FROM LEAGUE PROCESS

Scottish Football League chief executive David Longmuir has told Rangers they will have to go through the same process as any other club if they wish to join the Third Division.

The administration-hit Scottish Premier League outfit are battling to avoid liquidation and following heavy sanctions imposed on the Ibrox club by the Scottish Football Association this week, manager Ally McCoist admitted he could now be in favour of dropping down to the fourth tier of Scottish football.

'If Rangers or anyone else applied for entry into the SFL they would have to go through the same process as Annan, Spartans FC, Preston Athletic and Cove Rangers did four years ago,' Longmuir told the Daily Record.

'They would have to put a proposal to us on why they should be allowed in and then hope they were voted in by the SFL clubs.

'At the moment it's difficult for me to comment on Rangers' situation.

'But anything that brought excitement and freshness to the SFL would be something I'm interested in.

'It would be the same process, given any set of circumstances.

'When Annan were welcomed in the process took a couple of months during the close season.

'In the past we've had to assess the likes of Annan, Cove and Preston on the basis of ground criteria, facilities and financial stability.

'So checks have to be done, which would obviously be a bit different if Rangers were involved.

'However, at the moment there is no vacancy in the SFL. Rangers are in administration, which is a situation other clubs have found themselves in and survived.

'The same could happen to Rangers. As a Scottish football supporter, I hope they do.'

Rangers are appealing a 160,000 fine and 12-month embargo on signing players aged over 17 after being found guilty of five charges in relation to their finances and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman.