GLASGOW: Rangers have been hit with a 12-month embargo on signing players and owner Craig Whyte has been banned for life following a Scottish Football Association hearing into the club’s financial affairs.
Administration-hit Rangers have also been fined a total of £160,000 while Whyte, who had already been deemed unfit to hold an official position in the game by the SFA, was handed fines totalling £200,000.
The SFA said its judicial panel would issue reasons for their findings in “early course” while both parties have three days to appeal following receipt of those reasons.
Whyte was defiant when asked for his reaction to the punishment on him and Rangers. He said: “Tell me how it is going to affect me? I couldn’t care less. It makes no difference to my life whatsoever – and good luck collecting the money. It’s a joke. It is very harsh on Rangers. I am surprised at how harsh the SFA have been on a club which is going through tough times at the moment.
“Stewart Regan (chief executive) and Campbell Ogilvie (president) should resign and get out of Scottish football. The SFA wants to kick Rangers when they are down and I hope people remember that. They are playing to the media.”
Duff and Phelps, joint administrators of Rangers Football Club, condemned the ruling as “draconian” in a statement on Monday night.
Paul Clark, joint administrator, 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 central 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 long-established and 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. 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.
“As everyone knows, it has already been decided he is not a fit and proper person to run a football club and any further punishment on him will have little or no impact. However, for Rangers, 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 affect they will have on their proposals. The Club has asked for full written reasons for these decisions and intend to appeal against the findings.”
The challenge facing the SFA was that it could not be seen to apply to Rangers any treatment it would not apply to any other club in the Scottish system.
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