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Rangers consider challenging transfer ban in Court of Session


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From the Herald

Exclusive: Rangers consider challenging transfer ban in Court of Session as Duff & Phelps strike back

Michael Grant

Chief football writer

RANGERS are considering whether to seek a Judicial Review of the SFA's decision to impose a year-long transfer embargo on the club.

Senior figures at Ibrox are weighing up whether to contest the ban in the Court of Session on the basis that they could argue the punishment is legally unsound. Duff & Phelps, the administrators, and Charles Green, the figurehead of the consortium intending to buy the club from Craig Whyte, have taken advice on whether applying for a Judicial Review would be worthwhile. While any review was being held, Rangers would argue that the embargo should be lifted and, if the club can get out of administration, it would be able to sign players this summer.

However, taking on the SFA in court would be fraught with difficulties. The process would be expensive and potentially time-consuming, and it may have little chance of success. When Rangers were fined £160,000 and banned from registering any player older than 18 for 12 months – as punishments for Whyte and the club bringing the game into disrepute – they lost an appeal to the SFA. A three-man tribunal including Lord Carloway ruled the sanction was "proportionate to the breach, dissuasive to others, and effective in the context of serious misconduct".

Any legal challenge could have wider repercussions. In January, football's world ruling body, FIFA, threatened to ban the Swiss Football Association if it failed to impose a transfer ban on FC Sion. The club had been put under a transfer embargo but signed players anyway and when UEFA expelled them from the Europa League, they took the case to court. Neither FIFA nor UEFA approve of member clubs taking on their national association in court.

Rangers could face fresh domestic sanctions unless Duff & Phelps comply with a request from the Scottish Premier League for documentation relating to their investigation into alleged undisclosed payments. The SPL first asked the administrators for information in March but has still to receive much of the paperwork it requires.

The allegations of undisclosed payments were made by Hugh Adam, a former director of Rangers, and the SPL wants to examine contracts and documentation dating back to 1998. On Wednesday, the BBC alleged that 53 Rangers players and staff had received "side letters" which were not lodged with the SFA or SPL, but covered money paid to them via Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs). Duff & Phelps have declined to comment on the EBTs issue until learning the outcome of the "big tax case" dispute with HMRC.

Joint-administrator Paul Clark yesterday responded to criticism by Paul Murray, the former Rangers director who leads the Blue Knights group that tried to gain control of the club. Murray had called for an investigation into Duff & Phelps after the BBC Scotland documentary alleged a major conflict of interest because one of their senior partners, David Grier, had advised Whyte during his takeover and knew of a potential deal involving Ticketus. "This matter has to be investigated as a matter of urgency by the regulatory bodies," said Murray. Grier has denied that he knew the extent of the money Whyte wanted Ticketus to provide – initially £24.4m – or that it would fund his entire takeover.

Clark yesterday insisted Duff & Phelps had nothing to hide and accused Murray of attempting to derail Green's takeover. "I don't think I would have any problem with a full investigation of the process," he said. "But Paul Murray was suggesting it should be immediate. Enough is enough. We have been put under pressure for the last 13 weeks. There is so much hysteria around the whole administration.

"My real fear is that having tried to upset the process throughout, this is just another attempt [by Paul Murray] in some vain effort to put off the current bidder, who has made a huge amount of progress, who is at Ibrox almost daily, and who is working with my team to get ahead of the information curve. Is this some attempt to just derail that process? I wouldn't know why someone who is acting apparently as a fan of Rangers would want to do that. If Paul Murray wanted to bid with whoever it was, and go head-to-head and bid whatever he could, he had 11 or 12 weeks to do that."

Little is known about Green's consortium, which includes Indonesian businessman Jude Allen and Middle Eastern lawyer Mazen Houssami, but Clark said many more details had been provided to the administrators. Details of a proposed CVA could be released to Rangers' creditors later today.

"We have seen proof of funds," said Clark. "Someone has underwritten the deal. Well, parties have underwritten the deal. We have more information than is in the public arena. If you were to ask whether it's five, 10 or 15 parties who are going to invest, I don't know. It's not something that's going to have a major impact for me, although the football authorities and the fans, will want to know. We have had sufficient proof of funding and we know some of the parties. For my part, what is of significant interest is that the body in total is sufficiently co-ordinated and financially prepared."

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whats to consider, we as a club must make a stand.

these fuckers have investigations and meetings to decide our future, let them walk over us on this, and what do we think they will do with the next one.

time to fight back, show we wont lie down, appeal everything to the highest courts in the land.

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Every reason under the sun why we would just roll over and take another kicking, not one why we should seek justice, typical of the media.

They will always cater to their readers, which means they'll provide the slant that the readers expect, which these days is giving us a bad light.

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