Rangers‘ administrators have requested an immediate expedited appeals process over the sanctions imposed on the club by the Scottish Football Association’s judicial panel last night.
The Glasgow giants were hit with a £160,000 (€190,000) fine and 12-month embargo on signing players aged over 17 after being found guilty of five charges in relation to their finances and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman.
In a statement released this afternoon, administrators Duff and Phelps also stated they were not yet satisfied at this stage as to whether the sanctions are lawful.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: ``We have today written to the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association requesting an immediate expedited appeals process over the sanctions imposed on Rangers by the Association's judicial panel last night.
“The decision of last night’s judicial panel is in our opinion quite extraordinary.
“Not only in our opinion do the panel fail to have properly apportioned culpability between the club and Craig Whyte, they appear to have rendered a penalty which could have a very detrimental effect on the ability of the administrators to achieve a sale of the business or a Company Voluntary Arrangement.
“This, in turn, cannot be in the interests of Rangers Football Club or Scottish football in general.”
Administrators claim news of the SFA sanctions could delay further their attempts to named a preferred bidder to take over the administration-hit club.
Former Ibrox director Paul Murray‘s Blue Knights yesterday requested more time to finalise their plans prior to any announcement on a preferred bidder, while American businessman Bill Miller had previously asked for written assurances that there would be no football sanctions next season.
Whitehouse fears the process could now be hampered further by last night‘s verdict, arguing it had already been held up by the Scottish Premier League‘s plans to vote on Monday on financial fair play proposals.
He added: “The football authorities are fully aware that we are in the throes of an extremely complex insolvency situation.
“There has been widespread support across the political spectrum and in the football world for Rangers to be saved as a club and a viable business, last night’s decision can only hinder rather than help.
“The decision to prohibit the club from signing new players is akin to a court ordering the administrator of a trading company not to buy stock.
“The principal operating and trading asset of a football club are its players and an inability to sign new players frustrates both the ability of the company to trade and the statutory objectives of administration.
“It is extremely disappointing that approximately three weeks ago purchasers were at the point of confirming unconditional offers which would have achieved the purpose of administration.
“This process was first delayed by the announcements of the SPL to implement the rule changes to be considered on April 30, and has now been further hampered by the sanctions imposed last night.”
Administrators questioned the legality of the SFA`s punishments, while calling for clarity from both footballing bodies on future sanctions, rather than see measures introduced on an ``ad-hoc basis.''
Whitehouse said: “We are unsure as to whether the judicial panel fully understood or considered the commercial impact upon both the club and Scottish football of these measures, nor are we satisfied at this stage as to whether these sanctions are indeed lawful.
“Clearly time is running out to achieve a sale of the business or a CVA and the club can ill afford further legal arguments.
“Accordingly, we are urging both football authorities to adopt a more pragmatic approach to sanctions to ensure that the administration of Rangers Football Club can be brought to a conclusion at the earliest possible date for the good of not only the club but also for Scottish football generally.
“We would then encourage the footballing authorities to introduce a framework so as to provide clarity in circumstances such as these going forward, rather than allowing arbitrary measures to be introduced on an ad-hoc basis which clearly impede a process of administration.
“We are sure the authorities recognise that any potential purchaser or investor in a football club must have clarity in relation to its future playing capabilities and revenue potential.
“By failing to provide clarity in relation to pragmatic and commercially sensible penalties the authorities are by default prejudicing the survival of one of the clubs whose existence is key to the well being of Scottish football.
“We will continue to work tirelessly over the next couple of days to attempt to secure the comfort from the football authorities as to the level of future sanctions which will be raised, so as to enable one of the bidders to proceed with an acquisition of Rangers Football Club Plc without further delay.”