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Gers risk fresh sanctions after appeal
Rangers have overturned a 12-month transfer embargo in the Scottish law courts - but they could now face more severe sanctions as a result.
The club succeeded in their application for a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh as Lord Glennie backed their assertion that a Scottish Football Association judicial panel had exceeded its powers in administering the ban on registering players.
The judge accepted the club's case that only the specific punishments laid down under the related rule should be imposed on the club for bringing the game into disrepute. However, he proposed that the decision be referred back to an SFA appeal tribunal, which had upheld the decision that a transfer ban was appropriate punishment for a failure to pay more than £13million in tax last season.
The explicit punishments stated in the SFA's rule 66 are a maximum £100,000 fine, suspension or expulsion from participation in the game, ejection from the Scottish Cup or termination of membership.
The independent three-man SFA disciplinary panel had considered ending Rangers' membership, saying they viewed the offence second only to match-fixing in terms of seriousness, but decided a transfer ban was more appropriate.
Having already administered the maximum fine, an SFA appeal would therefore only be entitled to throw them out of the Scottish Cup for a spell or else stop the club playing football altogether in Scotland.
The ruling brings fresh uncertainty to the club on the day administrators published a Company Voluntary Arrangement proposal. Rangers are still subject to a Scottish Premier League transfer embargo but that will automatically be lifted if they come out of administration, which could happen as early as July 12.
An SFA spokesperson said: "We are surprised by today's verdict at the Court of Session, especially since the original sanction against Rangers FC was imposed by an independent panel chaired by a leading QC and upheld by an appellate tribunal chaired by a Supreme Court judge.
"We will now consider our position with our legal advisers before making any further comment."
Rangers administrator Paul Clark said: "We welcome the decision by Judge Lord Glennie today that vindicates the club's position that the original SFA judicial panel tribunal and the appellate tribunal acted beyond their powers in imposing a transfer embargo on the club."