12-month transfer embargo imposed on Rangers as SFA fine Whyte £200,000 and club £160,000
RANGERS Football Club was plunged into fresh crisis last night as owner Craig Whyte was given a life ban from Scottish
football and the Glasgow giants were prevented from signing any players for 12 months. Hours after the club’s administrators had admitted another delay in naming a preferred buyer for the stricken club, Rangers were also fined £160,000 – while Mr Whyte was ordered to pay a further £200,000.
The punishments were meted out following an independent inquiry into the club’s financial affairs and a disciplinary hearing ordered by the Scottish Football Association which Mr Whyte had refused to attend, branding it “farcical”.
Last night, the SFA said both parties had three days to appeal the decision of the judicial panel.
But within minutes of the punishments being made public, Mr Whyte had denounced them as “a joke”, while administrators Duff & Phelps warned the “draconian sanctions” would undermine their efforts to find a buyer for the club.
The SFA said it had “expelled Craig Whyte for life from any participation in Association Football in Scotland.”
Mr Whyte was branded unfit to run Rangers last month following the independent inquiry, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Lord William Nimmo Smith.
But last night Mr Whyte said of the punishment: “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 [SFA chief executive] and Campbell Ogilvie [president] should resign and get out of Scottish football.
“The SFA want to kick Rangers when they are down and I hope people remember that. They are playing to the media.”
Although the ban on Mr Whyte prevents him from holding any official position at a Scottish club, it does not affect his ability to be a shareholder of Rangers.
He was found guilty of two charges – bringing the game into disrepute and failing to follow directions from an SFA tribunal.
Rangers were found guilty of five rule breaches, including bringing the game into disrepute.
The transfer embargo means they can only sign players under 18 over the next year.
Paul Clark, joint administrator of Rangers, said the club intended to mount an appeal.
“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,” said Mr Clark.
“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 longestablished
and proper form of corporate governance.
“The thrust of the charges against the club focused on nonpayment of payroll taxes and evidence was produced that all such decisions in this area were taken by Craig Whyte.”
Mr Clark added: “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.”
Administrators Duff & Phelps had earlier appealed to the club’s support for more patience after admitting the two potential bidders for the Ibrox club have still have not made an offer “capable of acceptance”.
Duff & Phelps said on Friday that they would look to proceed with American businessman Bill Miller’s £11.2million bid yesterday, if no other offers were forthcoming. However, the Blue Knights, led by former director Paul Murray, returned to the table over the weekend.