Tuesday 24 March 2020


Rangers in crisis: Sevco have until Friday to gain SFA membership and play football next season

Charles Green's re-animated Rangers have only four days to agree on the terms which will allow them to play next season.

Rangers in crisis: Sevco have until Friday to gain SFA membership and play football next season
Time is of the essence: SFL rules clearly state that new clubs must gain SFA membership within 14 days of being accepted into their organisation Photo: REUTERS

Malcolm Murray, the chairman of Sevco Scotland Ltd, has dismissed claims by the Scottish Football Association on Friday evening that a settlement had been reached.

In a statement released earlier on Friday, the SFA claimed that the stricken Glasgow giants had accepted a 12-month embargo on signing players aged 18 or over as well as “all other outstanding conditions relating to Oldco’s charges of bringing the game into disrepute”.

However, Murray insisted that the SFA were wrong to say that Green and his consortium have deigned to accept all the sanctions which may still be imposed on them. Consequently, no agreement has yet been reached.

Scottish Football League rules clearly state that new clubs must gain SFA membership within 14 days of being accepted into their organisation – which means that business must be concluded by Friday.

“For clarity, we have not signed any agreement yet and therefore believe the SFA’s statement to be premature,” said Murray.

It could be that Murray is merely showboating for the benefit of a disgruntled support. With the SFA refusing to bend on this issue, though, either the embargo will be accepted as a condition of membership or Sevco will not play football next season.

Which some cynics have argued has been the plan all along.

Manager Ally McCoist also weighed in with an ill-judged rant which will almost certainly lead to an extended touchline ban and a fine.

“We have had meetings with the SFA all week to discuss membership but I had to leave the final meeting as I could not support the sanctions they were trying to impose.

“The decision has already been taken to place Rangers in Division 3 and we have accepted that, along with many more punishments. However, operating with an embargo on an already depleted first-team squad – even with a window to sign players – will make the task ahead an extremely difficult one.

“It is important to remember we have already had a 10-point deduction from the SPL, lost our Champions League place for finishing second last season, had a £160,000 fine, been refused entry to the SPL, been relegated to Division 3 and lost the majority of our first team squad. Yet still the governing body has chosen to impose further sanctions.”

Of course, the 10-point penalty, like the exile from European competition, are not punishments: they merely represent the consequences of falling into administration.

Similarly, newco Rangers have not been penalised by beginning life in the Third Division: indeed, no other completely new club would have been allowed to enter the bottom tier.

It is also true that no other new club would have been even considered for membership of the SPL. Again, their failure to have the oldco's membership share transferred is not a punitive measure.

Equally, the £160,000 fine resulted from the inability or unwillingness [or both] of discredited owner Craig Whyte to pay taxes or any other bills which the club ran up during his tenure.

Likewise, players, most of whom gave up 75 per cent of their salaries for three months in a vain attempt to save the old club, are not punishing Sevco by refusing to transfer their contracts to the new company and exercising their right to find alternative employment.

“The transfer ban has been strongly resisted by me, the management team, the directors and supporters,” McCoist added.

“From a business point of view I can understand the position the board has been placed in and ultimately they felt they had no choice but to accept some sanctions in order to move forward – as one of the alternatives could have led to the extinction of the club.

“I can also assure every Rangers fan I will not be accepting any talk of stripping the Club of titles. That is something we will never accept and everyone at the Club shares this view.”

The idea that people found guilty of wrongdoing – and if the SPL's investigations proves that Rangers were improperly registering players over a period of 11 years it would be considered a major offence – should decide on the sentence they receive is a novel one.

McCoist's credibility was severely damaged by his demand in April to “out” the SFA's independent Judiciary Panel (“Rangers supporters and the Scottish public deserve to know who these people are”) which had originally imposed the transfer embargo.

The SFA's compliance officer, Vincent Lunny, has still to take him to task for that outburst – rendered all the more incomprehensible by the fact that Rangers officials were well aware of the identities of the panel members – and he is also likely to have his collar felt for his latest offering.

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