Newco Rangers 'agree player signing ban U-turn for Scottish FA membership'

Newco Rangers have agreed to a U-turn on a player signing ban in order to assume Scottish FA membership.

On Friday evening, the ruling body confirmed that Sevco Scotland Limited will accept the registration embargo as a "primary condition of a transfer of membership".

The club released a statement in response claiming that their change of heart over the sanction had been made "under duress".

The player signing ban will begin on September 1 this year and will end on August 31, 2013, giving the Third Division side the summer transfer window in which to buy players.

Previously the punishment had been imposed because of Rangers failure to pay tax and other bills following Craig Whyte's takeover last May.

Administrators Duff and Phelps had sought the opinion of the Court of Session over whether such a sanction could be imposed, which resulted in Lord Glennie ruling that the association had acted out with its rules in hitting Rangers with the ban. He ordered the Scottish FA to reconvene the appellate tribunal to decide on a new sanction for the rule breaches.

In a statement released on Friday, the SFA said: "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 September 1, 2012 and end on August 31, 2013."

'Bitter pill to swallow'

The Scottish FA also confirmed that Sevco had also accepted the £160,000 fine imposed on the oldco for various rule breaches in the nine months Craig Whyte owned Rangers, including bringing the game into disrepute through non-payment of taxes.

On Friday, the governing body stated: "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.

"The imposition of conditions relating to transfer of membership was made on the basis that the Scottish FA, as the governing body, has an obligation to protect the integrity of the national game and to ensure that all member clubs operate within the Articles of Association."

Malcolm Murray, chairman of newco club, said: "Board members, the manager and senior executives from the club have been meeting with the SFA this week with the sole purpose of ensuring the long term future of Rangers. For clarity, we have not signed any agreement yet and therefore believe the SFA’s statement to be premature.

"We have had days of discussions with the SFA and it is important for everyone, but most importantly our fans, to understand that the SFA said it would only transfer the membership to play football if we accepted some form of additional sanctions for the sins of previous regimes.

"The choice is stark - take sanctions or risk not playing football at all. We do not wish to gamble with the club’s future so, under duress, we have taken the difficult decision to accept some sanctions in order to move forward. A delayed transfer ban would be a bitter pill to swallow and will only be agreed to if the alternative is no football.

"We would have a window in which to sign players enabling the manager to strengthen the squad which is critical for the Club to start the process of rebuilding."

He also confirmed that the SPL is seeking to "impose further sanctions" on Rangers after it found the club had a case to answer over the use of dual contracts and employee benefits trusts (EBTs) to pay players during Sir David Murray's time in charge at Ibrox.

Mr Murray added: "This is truly astounding to everyone at the club who is now in charge of rebuilding Rangers from Division 3, particularly as the SPL are still trying to benefit from our media rights. Whilst we are deeply frustrated that the club and the new owners will have to accept some punishments for the sins of previous regimes, we are at the point where we have to move forward and get back playing football.

"We will all continue to work hard over the coming days in order to begin the season and play our first match next Sunday. Rangers fans around the world have been tremendous in their support for the club over the last six months - through what has been an horrendous period in our history.

"Supporters have been badly bruised by recent events and they more than anyone deserve to see their team playing football again. To move forward we must all now rally behind the manager and club through this rebuilding process. We have a long road ahead but every one of us involved in taking the club forward is committed to restoring Rangers to greatness again and we will not falter in our commitment."

Video is from the late STV News bulletin on Friday, July 20.

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