Rangers can sign players before 12-month transfer ban kicks in

Ally McCoist was last night finally given the green light to add to his threadbare squad when the Scottish Football Association confirmed that Rangers newco have accepted a 12-month transfer ban, beginning on 1 September and ending on 31 August 2013, as “a primary condition” of gaining membership of the SFA.

Ally McCoist was last night finally given the green light to add to his threadbare squad when the Scottish Football Association confirmed that Rangers newco have accepted a 12-month transfer ban, beginning on 1 September and ending on 31 August 2013, as “a primary condition” of gaining membership of the SFA.

The registration embargo and a £160,000 fine were handed down to Rangers by the SFA’s independent Appellate Tribunal for a range of offences, mainly the club’s failure to pay tax under former owner Craig Whyte, who was banned for life by the SFA after he was ruled unfit to hold an official role in the game.

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The Ibrox club successfully challenged the ban in the Court of Session before Charles Green’s Sevco bought their assets when they were consigned to liquidation. Lord Glennie ruled the sanction was not open to the SFA, who referred the matter back to the tribunal. Punishments available to the panel were: expulsion from the game and termination of membership, suspension of membership or suspension from the Scottish Cup. However, Rangers’ acceptance of the original decision with a delayed implementation, which is still be ratified by the independent panel, is a compromise which will allow McCoist to recruit players as he prepares for life in the Irn-Bru Third Division.

The Ibrox manager has lost several players such as Steve Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ness, Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith and John Fleck with Allan McGregor, among others, set to follow. Now McCoist has over five weeks to find the players to help him, in the first instance, get out of the Third Division.

The SFA released a statement which read: “The Scottish FA can tonight clarify the position surrounding the outstanding Appellate Tribunal related to Rangers FC Oldco. It has been agreed with Sevco Scotland Ltd that the registration embargo will be accepted as a primary condition of a transfer of membership.

“It is necessary to complete the judicial process following the determination by Lord Glennie in the Court of Session that required the Independent Appellate Body to revisit available sanctions relating to Oldco, having been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

“The Scottish FA indicated to Sevco Scotland Ltd that they had to accept responsibility for any sanctions arising out of this case as a condition of transfer of membership. Rather than convening the Appellate Tribunal to determine from the sanctions available to it, the company directors of Sevco Scotland Ltd have chosen to accept the 12-month registration embargo. This embargo will begin on 1st September 2012 and end on 31st August 2013.

“Sevco Scotland Ltd have also undertaken to accept all other outstanding conditions relating to Oldco’s charges of bringing the game into disrepute. The conditional offer of transfer will now be submitted to the Appellate Tribunal for its consideration.

“This will form part of the approval process for the transfer of membership which, once approved, will enable Rangers FC to take a considerable step towards participating in Irn Bru Division Three.

“In addition to the above, the Scottish FA has also received the necessary financial information requested and this is being considered as part of the application process. Subject to the completion of all legal documentation, we anticipate transfer of membership next week.”

In a further twist, Spartans chairman Chris Graham has asked to be replaced on the SFA’s Appellate Tribunal, claiming that he had a conflict of interest because the Edinburgh club would be one of the applicants to take their place in the Third Division if Sevco Scotland Ltd are expelled from Scottish game.

Lord Carloway, who chaired the panel, has also withdrawn, apparently upset that Lord Glennie ruled the 12-month transfer embargo which he and his colleagues upheld to be unlawful.

Midfielder Ness, meanwhile, has been given the go-ahead by Fifa to start his career with Stoke City, and the other former Rangers players who left the club are likely to follow.

The association to which the players are affiliated can request temporary registration from Fifa to allow the player to play during the period of arbitration – which happened with Ness. PFA Scotland solicitor Margaret Gribbon, of Bridge Litigation, said: “I can confirm that Jamie Ness has been granted provisional clearance from Fifa. I am delighted about that and expect all other applications pending before Fifa to take the same course.”