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Rangers launch legal action against SFA over transfer ban

Category: Scotland

Published: 25th May 2012 15:41:42

Rangers have asked the Court of Session to overturn a transfer ban imposed on the club by the Scottish Football Association.

Lawyers acting for the financially-stricken Ibrox club said the ban would cause them "utterly irretrievable" prejudice if it was upheld.

They claim the embargo is unlawful and outside the powers of the SFA tribunal.

The club's administrators are seeking to have the ban suspended in a judicial review.

The sanction was imposed on Rangers along with a £160,000 fine after it was charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

Richard Keen QC, acting for Rangers FC plc, said an agreement which saw senior players accept substantial pay cuts is due to expire next month.

In return for agreeing to the pay cuts, the players will be able to seek a transfer from Rangers for only about 25% of their perceived market value.

If the additional sanction was to remain in place for all or the material part of the transfer window the prejudice on the petitioners would be utterly irretrievable”

Mr Keen said the players would have "every incentive to go" because they would likely be able to secure a "golden hello" from buying clubs signing them for a knock-down transfer fee.

"If this sanction is in place they cannot be replaced by players over 18 years of age," he told the court, adding: "If the additional sanction was to remain in place for all or the material part of the transfer window the prejudice on the petitioners would be utterly irretrievable."

Mr Keen said an appeal tribunal held to review the original SFA decision had heard the suggestion that Rangers had a squad of more than 40 players. However, he said 25 of those players were aged 18 or under.

"If the additional sanction was to be suspended they would be able to sign replacement players for those who are in all probability leaving," he added.

Mr Keen pointed out that administrators Duff and Phelps were also seeking to finalise arrangements for the takeover of the club with Charles Green, a former Sheffield United chief executive.

"The indications from him are that he would be willing to proceed even if the additional sanction is in place", Mr Keen said.

"However, the preferred route for any resolution of the present difficulties is a CVA (company voluntary arrangement) and it is not clear all other creditors would take the same view of the company's prospects if the additional sanction was in place."

Administrators were called in at Rangers in February following an unpaid tax bill and the club was charged by the SFA for bringing the game into disrepute.

Mr Keen argued that it was not competent for the tribunal to impose the additional sanction on the club and that it was outside its powers.

He said that a fine, suspension, expulsion and termination of membership were available, but added: "The sanction of suspending the registration of players is not available under the general disciplinary rules to the tribunal in respect of an alleged breach.

'Suspension or expulsion'

"It follows in my submission that the purported additional sanction imposed by the tribunal and confirmed by the appeal tribunal was not a competent sanction and was not one available to the tribunal.

"My understanding is that those representing the SFA at the original hearing were as surprised as we were when the tribunal came back to impose such a sanction, or I should say purported sanction."

Aidan O'Neill QC, for the SFA, said the tribunal had sought to find a punishment or sanction which would fit the breach.

"They did not want to be in a situation of giving a sanction which is not effective and not dissuasive, or a disproportionate sanction - which is suspension or expulsion," he said.

He said it was understood within the sport that a transfer ban preventing the registration of new players was a sanction.

"We don't want a clunky reading of these rules which means either we have a useless sanction or a nuclear option. That is just nonsensical," he said.

Mr O'Neill argued that the tribunal had properly applied its mind to come up with what it considered to be an effective and proportionate outcome.

"This club brought the game into disrepute because it did not pay its taxes, among other things," he said.

The hearing is due to continue next week.

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BBC News, 2012. Rangers launch legal action against SFA over transfer ban [Online] (Updated 25th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430940/Rangers-launch-legal-action-against-SFA-over-transfer-ban [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]

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