The SFA stuns Rangers with fine

Scottish club Rangers are on the brink of extinction this morning after a Scottish Football Association hearing into the club’s affairs imposed a 12-month embargo on the signing of new players and handed a lifetime ban to owner Craig Whyte. The Ibrox club, who are already in administrationhave 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 stuns Rangers with fine
The financial storm for Rangers looks like having no end in sight.

Rangers were charged with six breaches of the SFA rules, with a guilty verdict returned on five and one "not proven". The transfer embargo means they can only sign players under the age of 18 for the next year. They were handed the signing embargo and £100,000 fine for breaching rule 66 - bringing the game into disrepute, while a £50,000 fine was issued for going into administration together with £10,000 for failing to ensure that Whyte acted within fit and proper regulations. Whyte failed to notify the SFA that he had been disqualified as a director for seven years in 2000.

The club were also found guilty of acting in an improper manner/against the best interests of football and also of failing to pay Dundee United gate receipts from a Scottish Cup tie in February. They were "censured" on both counts.

Whyte was fined £50,000 for bringing the game into disrepute but a charge of acting in an improper manner and against the interests of football was not proven. He was handed three more identical fines on separate counts of failing to follow directions from an SFA tribunal.

Full SFA statement here

The SFA have said their judicial panel will issue reasons for their findings in "early course" while Rangers and Mr Whyte have three days to appeal following receipt of those findings. The reaction from Whyte was quick and predictable branding the process “a complete joke.”

"Tell me how it is going to affect me?” he said. “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.

"They've never spoken to me."[SFA Chief executive] Stewart Regan and [president] Campbell Ogilvie had dinner with me in November and they told me it wouldn't be a problem. Now they're just reacting to all of the publicity since February. Rangers fans can see where the SFA are coming from. We're Scotland's biggest club. They should be helping us, not kicking us when we're down. Rangers fans will remember this for a long time."

Asked whether the SFA could force him to pay the fine, he added: "Of course they can't. It's farcical."

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."

Fans of the club reacted angrily to the news with the Rangers Trust tweeting

“Why punish the club more than the man responsible?" On Whyte the trust added: "We will never forget the way you have tried to destroy our club."

It remains to be seen how this latest development will affect efforts to sell the club with two bidders, The Blue Knights headed by former director Paul Murray and US tow truck tycoon Bill Miller, granted further time on Monday to formalise bids for the club. In a statement last Friday Miller said he wouldn’t proceed with his bid if the Scottish football authorities didn’t give him written assurances regarding future penalties for the club.

“We do not know how the bidders will react to these sanctions and what effect they will have on their proposals,” admitted Duff and Phelps. "The club has asked for full written reasons for these decisions and intend to appeal against the findings."

Rangers face newly crowned Scottish Premier League champions Celtic this Sunday in what could turn out to be the last Glasgow derby for a while or indeed ever as the prospect of liquidation looms ever larger threatening to draw a line under the club's proud 140-year history.