Rangers’ appeal against sanctions imposed by the Scottish Football Association will be heard next Wednesday – and the panel members have been named following consultation with the police.
Administration-hit Rangers were fined £160,000 and handed a 12-month transfer embargo by an SFA judicial panel last month after being found guilty of five charges in relation to their financial affairs and appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman.
The appeal panel will be chaired by Lord Carloway with Craig Graham and Allan Cowan also sitting on the hearing.
Lord Carloway has been a judge since 2000 and recently wrote a Government-commissioned report into criminal law and practice.
Cowan stepped down as Partick Thistle chairman in 2010 after 13 years on the Firhill board while Graham is chairman of East of Scotland League side Spartans and a partner at KPMG, which provides tax and auditing services.
The three members of the original judicial panel which handed out the punishment and SFA officials received security advice from police following reports of threats.
An SFA statement read: “In light of the subsequent leaking of the identities of the three panel members from the original tribunal, and given the exceptional circumstances of the appeal, it has been agreed that we will identify the members of the appellate tribunal in advance of the hearing.
“This decision has been taken with the approval of the individuals involved and after consultation with the relevant police authorities.
“It is essential that these panel members are allowed to conduct the appeal without fear of intimidation and we respectfully ask all involved in the process to do their utmost to observe our wishes and the wishes of the panel members.”
Rangers received their ban on signing players aged over 17 and the bulk of their fine mainly because of a disrepute charge borne from their non-payment of more than #13million in taxes since Whyte took over in May last year.
Whyte, who made no representation at the three-day hearing, was given a lifetime ban from Scottish football and fined £200,000 but has told the SFA the punishment will have no impact on his life.
The SFA also published the judicial panel’s rationale for their punishment.
The lengthy document follows submissions from the likes of Rangers financial controller Ken Olverman, who held his post before Whyte’s takeover, and former board members including John McClelland.
The report states that Olverman was instructed by Whyte to take instructions only from Whyte and give no information on the club’s finances to directors, including Dave King.
It also states that Olverman was not authorised to make due payments to tax authorities in September and was told by Whyte that payments to her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs were to be suspended.
The report added: “At the time of the first withheld payment in September 2011 Rangers FC’s financial situation was such that it could have made the payment due to HMRC.
“In the course of his subsequent communications with Mr Craig Whyte about the payment of these social taxes due to HMRC Mr Craig Whyte stated to Mr Olverman that non payment of the sums due was a tactic or negotiating ploy intended to improve the position of Rangers FC in any attempted negotiation with HMRC of a settlement in ’the Big Tax Case’.”
The report states that former Rangers chairman McClelland resigned from the board in October along with John Greig after being given no information about the club’s finances and no opportunity to attend a board meeting.
The report added that Olverman was contacted by tax officials in August about invoices discovered in the business records of Ticketus, which gave the club more than £30million in capital under Whyte, which included £5million in VAT, in return for rights to future season ticket sales.
The report states: “The invoices related to sums of many millions of pounds and the VAT element in each of them had been the subject of offset by Ticketus in the submission of its VAT returns for the last period.
“Such was the size and impact of this offset of VAT which had been paid by Ticketus in respect of these invoices, that Ticketus had made a claim for payment of a substantial sum to it by HMRC by way of recovery of VAT paid.
“Mr Ken Olverman, the financial controller of Rangers FC, had no knowledge of the existence of the invoices purportedly raised by Rangers FC.
“The raising of such invoices was a matter which fell squarely within his sphere of responsibility and it was inconceivable that such invoices for such large sums could be raised and issued from the finance office of Rangers FC without his knowledge.
“He was unaware of any current transaction with Ticketus and knew that no sums of money had been received in recent times from Ticketus into any accounts of Rangers FC.
“In the course of September 2011 Mr Ken Olverman had sight of the said invoices. The nature and format of the invoices was entirely different to that of invoices raised within the finance office of Rangers FC. He was of the view that it appeared as though Clip Art computer processes had been involved in their creation.
“They did not appear to him to resemble any invoices he had ever seen issued by Rangers FC.
“Mr Ken Olverman believed from his conversations with the HMRC official that the invoices were the subject of further investigation. He accordingly took no further action in relation to the invoices.”