Banned! SFA hit Rangers with 12-month transfer embargo as Whyte is barred for life
06:46 GMT, 24 April 2012
Rangers were plunged further into the abyss on Monday night after being found guilty of bringing Scottish football into disrepute.
In a swingeing and potentially crippling blow to hopes of a takeover, an independent SFA judicial panel found the Ibrox club guilty of breaching six regulations and imposed a 12-month ban on signing players, accompanied by fines totalling 160,000.
Discredited owner Craig Whyte was also found guilty of breaching three SFA rules, fined 200,000 and expelled for life from holding office in Scottish football.
Barred for life: Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte
The independent panel’s verdict came after three days of evidence last week, when the Ibrox club’s
administrators argued that the actions of Whyte should be separated from those of the club.
Those arguments fell on deaf ears, with Duff & Phelps spokesman Paul Clark vowing to appeal what he dubbed the ‘draconian’ punishments late on Monday night.
On receiving the judgments, Rangers have three days to appeal and are certain to do so after the administrators said: ‘All of us working on behalf of the club are utterly shocked and dismayed by the draconian sanctions imposed on Rangers in respect of these charges.
‘It appears that, on one hand, the disciplinary panel accepted our argument that responsibility for bringing the club into disrepute lay with the actions of one individual — Craig Whyte — as is evident from the unprecedented punishment meted out to him.
‘During this hearing, the club produced compelling evidence from a number of sources that, following his takeover, Craig Whyte ran the club in a thoroughly unaccountable manner, rather than adhering to a proper form of corporate governance.
‘The thrust of the charges against the club focused on non-payment of payroll taxes and evidence was produced that all such decisions in this area were taken by Craig Whyte during his tenure.
Anger: Rangers fans have been demanding answers in recent months
‘Given this evidence, it is difficult to comprehend that the disciplinary panel has seen fit to effectively punish the club even more heavily than Mr Whyte.
'A ban on signing players will seriously undermine the club’s efforts to rebuild after being rendered insolvent.
'Furthermore, we do not know how bidders for the club will react to these sanctions and what effect they will have on their proposals. The club has asked for full written reasons for these decisions and intend to appeal.'
The judgment came at the end of a day when Duff & Phelps once again failed to appoint a preferred bidder, with all parties calling for patience.
With Bill Miller and the Blue Knights calling for clarity on what sanctions a newco Rangers might face following an SPL meeting next Monday, the SFA's punishment casts the club’s hopes of survival into grave and significant doubt.
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A number of key first-team players already look certain to leave and, if upheld, the club will be barred from replacing them, making the fielding of a team of youth players all but unavoidable.
An unrepentent Whyte had refused to attend the Judicial Panel hearing but said on Monday night: ‘It doesn’t affect my life, I’m just disappointed what it does to Rangers. It’s an outrage.
'It’s a joke, a complete joke. They have never spoken to me. Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie had dinner with me in November and they told me it wouldn’t be a problem. Now they are just reacting to all the publicity since February.
'Rangers fans can see where the SFA is coming from. We are Scottish football’s biggest club, they should be helping us, not kicking us when we’re down. Rangers fans will remember this for a long time.'
Asked if the SFA can enforce his own fine, he responded: 'Of course they can’t. It’s farcical.'