The administrators of Rangers FC have said the Scottish Football Association’s decision to fine the club and ban it from registering players for a year could have a "very detrimental effect" on its sale.
American businessman Bill Miller and the Blue Knights consortium, led by former Rangers board member Paul Murray, are in the running to take over the reins at Ibrox.
But the administrators now fear the SFA’s "extraordinary" punishment of the club on Monday night could result in Rangers struggling to achieve a company voluntary arrangement, meaning liquidation is now a real possibility.
Following an independent inquiry chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith, the SFA fined Rangers owner Craig Whyte £200,000 and banned him from "any participation" in Scottish football after bringing the game into disrepute. The club was also fined £160,000 and banned from registering players from 12 months. Fan groups are now planning a protest against the SFA.
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 (CVA).
"This, in turn, cannot be in the interests of Rangers Football Club or Scottish football in general.
"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 statement added: "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.
"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.”
Meanwhile, Rangers supporters groups have reacted angrily to the SFA’s punishments.
Andy Kerr, President of the Rangers Supporters Assembly, said "It is totally inappropriate that the governing body should punish the club at this time for the blatant misdemeanours of Craig Whyte.
"The charges against him as an individual should have been dealt with in isolation and the punishment meted out to him clearly shows the extent to which he was never 'a fit and proper person'.
"To punish the club on the same basis beggars belief. The Independent Panel of Rangers FC Directors raised huge doubts about Craig Whyte's ability to run the club on a financially sound basis yet the SFA chose not to intervene.
"That shows the inadequacy of their governance and they have shifted that onus to Rangers FC and compounded their incompetence by imposing a significant punishment. The combination of a huge fine and the ban on signing players for 12 months is a devastating blow.
"Surely the role of a governing body is to help and support member clubs as best they can. We do not want to run away from our responsibilities and we accept that any wrong-doing needs to be dealt with but to do it now when we are trying desperately to exit administration is brutal in the extreme.
"We strongly support the club in their appeal against these sanctions."
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