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Judge rules in favour of Gers
Rangers have won their court battle against a Scottish Football Association transfer embargo after a judge ruled the disciplinary panel members acted outside of their powers.
Lord Glennie proposed that the case go back to the SFA appeal tribunal that upheld the initial decision by a judicial panel to impose a 12-month ban on registering players aged 18 and over.
Following a three-hour hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the judge accepted the club's petition for a judicial review as he ruled that the SFA could only administer the specific punishments stated in the rule relating to the disrepute charge.
Rangers were already under a Scottish Premier League transfer embargo which will stand while they are in administration, but the publication of a Company Voluntary Arrangement proposal means that could end as early as July 12.
However, Rangers could face even stronger punishment from any reconvened SFA appeal panel as the only stated punishments above the maximum £100,000 fine already administered are suspension or expulsion from participation in the game, ejection from the Scottish Cup or termination of membership.
The disrepute charge was handed down mainly over the club's failure to pay more than £13million in taxes last season and SFA legal representative Aidan O'Neill QC had argued that the punishment had to be "effective, dissuasive and proportionate".
The SFA legal team also argued that section 95.1 of their articles of association stated a judicial panel had the powers to impose any punishment they deem appropriate. However, the judge noted that rule 94 dealt with bringing the game into disrepute under the powers available in the judicial panel protocol, stressing the word "available".
The SFA appeal tribunal, which was chaired by Court of Session judge Lord Carloway, argued that the initial panel was entitled to impose a lesser sanction than the maximum stipulated provided it was something the SFA could control and enforce.
Lord Glennie said: "I regret that I cannot accept that view." The judge pointed to rule 62 in the SFA judicial panel protocol which lays down a maximum fine of £1million and termination of membership for paying a match official more money than they are due.
A Scottish FA spokesperson later 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."