Rangers will soon discover the wisdom of their court action against the Scottish Football Association after the governing body referred its disrepute charge back to its internal appeals process.
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan revealed a tribunal would be convened “as soon as possible” after the imposition of a transfer embargo on the administration-hit club was ruled unlawful in the Court of Session on Tuesday.
The SFA had the right to appeal against Lord Glennie’s judgment but decided such a course of action would contradict the principle that football should sort its disputes internally.
Instead, a new independent panel must decide what punishment Rangers should face for bringing the game into disrepute over their non-payment of tax last season. The club currently owe Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs more than £21 million.
Two previous SFA panels decided a 12-month transfer embargo was an appropriate punishment on top of the maximum £100,000 fine but Lord Glennie contradicted colleague Lord Carloway, who chaired the SFA appeal, in ruling that the sanctions must be limited to those stated in rule 66.
If the latest panel decides a fine is insufficient then Rangers face suspension or expulsion from participation in the game, ejection from the Scottish Cup or termination of their SFA membership.
Rangers, who remain under transfer embargo under Scottish Premier League rules until they come out of administration, would have no recourse to appeal, provided the sanction is in the rule book, given they themselves proved in court that the Court of Arbitration for Sport route was not open to them.
Rangers could also face more sanctions for breaching SFA and FIFA rules that prohibit clubs taking legal action against governing bodies.
It is understood the SFA feel that FIFA, which was angered by Rangers’ action, will be satisfied that the final decision will be taken inside football circles.
However, Regan last night admitted they were still in consultation with FIFA and the world body may hold a different view if the latest independent panel imposes a more lenient punishment.
Given Rangers manager Ally McCoist claimed a 12-month transfer ban could “kill off” the club, a season out of the cup would appear to be a softer punishment.
So anything less than suspension from football could prompt FIFA to get involved. With the threat of sanctions against Scottish football as a whole, the SFA would then be under pressure to take further action against Rangers.
An SFA statement said: “With our Annual General Meeting taking place on Wednesday, June 6, it will be appropriate to remind member clubs that by very dint of their membership of the Scottish FA, they accept and abide by the Articles of Association.”
The need for Rangers to be able to register players when they come out of administration will become gradually apparent from today.
Players will revert to their original wages after taking cuts of up to 75 per cent for three months and some negotiated exit clauses allowing them to leave for a cut-price fee.
Such transfer fees will not go into the creditors’ pot but could be used to plug the trading losses ahead of the proposed takeover.