Rangers go before SFA judiciary panel

The focus on Rangers will today switch from the search for a new owner for the club to its fight with the Scottish Football Association’s judiciary panel at Hampden.

Following an independent inquiry into the administration-hit Scottish champions, which was led by former judge Lord Nimmo Smith, Rangers‘ owner Craig Whyte was issued with notices of complaint over breaches of two disciplinary rules.

Rangers were also served with notices of complaint over five alleged breaches of rules, including failing to abide by SFA regulations over the ’fit and proper person’ test.

The cases will be heard along with a previously announced notice of complaint over the club’s failure to pay Dundee United money owed from February’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox.

The SFA’s three-man judiciary panel will deal first with Celtic defender Cha Duri’s claim of unfair dismissal in Sunday’s Old Firm clash at Ibrox and after that Whyte and Rangers‘ charges will be addressed.

Whyte, ruled unfit by the SFA to be a club official, has been invited to attend but is likely to be represented by a lawyer.

Rangers will be represented by lawyers Biggart Ballie, Andrew Dickson, head of the football department at Rangers, and one of the Duff and Phelps‘ Administration team, although not Paul Clark or David Whitehouse, who will continue speaking with prospective buyers.

The three-man panel will be chosen from over 100 members of the SFA’s ’cab rank’ system which includes former managers, players and referees but in this instance, it will have a heavy legal flavour.

Rangers claim there are mitigating factors and will hope to persuade the panel to distinguish between the actions of one man and the actions of the club.

The club and Whyte have both been hit with two identical charges – allegedly breaching rule 66 by bringing the game into disrepute and rule 71, which decrees that clubs and officials should “act in the best interests of Association Football and shall not act in any manner which is improper”.

The inquiry had already judged that Rangers should face disrepute charges on four counts – obligations and duties of members, official return, financial records, and division of receipts and payment of expenses (Scottish Cup).

Rangers have not submitted audited accounts, required by the end of last year.

The Scottish champions have also been accused of failing to comply with the laws of the game’s governing bodies – specifically rule 10.2(g) of the SFA’s own articles of association, which highlights club officials who have been disqualified as a director within the previous five years.

Whyte was disqualified for seven years in 2000 and did not declare this until November 31 – six months after buying out Sir David Murray’s majority stake and six weeks after the penalty was publicly revealed in a BBC documentary.

A separate rule potentially breached states that member clubs shall procure that officials, team staff and players act in accordance with the above Rule 1.

Rangers have also been accused of a breach in relation to their descent into administration.

Rule 14(g) states that membership may be suspended or terminated, or a fine may be issued, where a club suffers or is subject to an insolvency event.

Rangers still await the outcome of a Scottish Premier League investigation into the alleged non-disclosure of payments to players since 1998.

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