The Scottish Football Association has moved to clarify why Rangers were fined for going into administration, while Hearts and Dunfermline both escaped financial sanctions for also suffering an insolvency event.
Rangers were fined £50,000 for breaching rule 14 (g) after being plunged into administration in February 2012 over then owner Craig Whyte’s non-payment of tax.
An SFA spokesperson said: “The Disciplinary Rules of the Judicial Panel Protocol provide a sliding scale of sanctions, with a suggested tariff of low-end, mid-range, top-end and maximum. This reflects the potential variations in seriousness of any breaches and any aggravating or mitigating factors.
“Rangers were fined £50,000 for a breach of Rule 14(g) based on the panel’s view that the evidence merited a sanction at the maximum end of the tariff.”
The SFA quoted statements from the panel’s notes which read: “At the time of the first withheld payment in September 2011 Rangers FC’s financial situation was such that it could have made the payment due to HMRC.
“The non-payment was a deliberate act in furtherance of a decision of the Chairman and director of Rangers FC not to make payment as a negotiating tactic in the resolution of ‘the Big Tax Case’.
“In the case of the non-payment of tax, the massive extent of the failure and the intentional and calculated manner in which it was carried out aggravated the breach even further.”
The statement added: “Rangers were placed into administration following the deliberate non-payment of social taxes, despite – in the evidence provided – having the money to do so when the decision was first taken to withhold the money. This was not a feature in the Heart of Midlothian or Dunfermline Athletic cases.
“The administrators in the two other cases submitted that fines would be inappropriate as the clubs effectively had no money and any fine could jeopardise attempts to save the club. They made submissions on their clubs’ financial position to reinforce their view.
“Rangers’ lawyer specifically asked for the club to be fined in respect of Charge 3, or Rule 14(g). He did not lead evidence of Rangers’ financial position or ability to pay any fine. Rangers did not appeal the fine.”