Rangers take SFA to court in bid to prove transfer ban is unlawful
RANGERS have stepped up their battle against the Scottish Football Association by launching a legal challenge to its transfer embargo.
The club took the controversial step of beginning action in the Court of Session in Edinburgh earlier today in a bid to overturn the 12-month ban, which was imposed for a failure to pay £13 million in tax last season.
Rangers lost an appeal against their punishment earlier this month, meaning two independent panels convened by the SFA found a transfer ban was competent and justified, and the next expected step in football disputes was to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
However, the club’s administrators, Duff and Phelps, began civil action against the governing body – a move explicitly prohibited in Fifa’s regulations. The case will continue on Tuesday.
In a statement, joint-administrator Paul Clark said: “The club started proceedings at the Court of Session today in an attempt to challenge the imposition by an SFA judicial panel of a player signing embargo.
“The process will continue at the court on Tuesday and it is the club’s position that the judicial panel did not have the powers to impose such a sanction.
“The club and the administrators are grateful for the support of the Rangers Fighting Fund on this matter.”
The club’s argument centres on the fact that the punishment, specifically a ban on registering players aged over 17, is not explicitly laid out in the SFA rules and so they claim it was not available to the panel.
However, the SFA articles of association include a clause that a judicial panel can implement any sanctions they deem appropriate.
The ban on registering players aged over 17 was handed down for a disrepute charge while Rangers were also fined £160,000 for a total of five offences in relation to their financial affairs and the appointment as chairman of Craig Whyte.
Mr Whyte was deemed unfit for a role in football by an SFA-commissioned independent inquiry over his previous disqualification as a director and subsequently banned from Scottish football for life.
The initial three-man judicial panel was chaired by a QC and the appeal panel chairman was serving judge Lord Carloway.
The appeal verdict stated: “Although the appellate tribunal has listened carefully to the representations from Rangers FC about the practical effects of the additional sanction, it has concluded that this sanction was proportionate to the breach, dissuasive to others and effective in the context of serious misconduct, bringing the game into disrepute.”
Charles Green, the former Sheffield United chief executive at the head of the consortium that has agreed to purchase the club, previously backed the administrators in their attempts to challenge the ban.
The club’s challenge is being paid for by the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, formed to enable supporters to help the club through administration.
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