Glasgow & West Scotland

Scottish football 'faces international ban' over Rangers SFA court challenge

Scottish football could face an international ban after Rangers challenged the SFA's transfer sanctions in the courts, it has been warned.

A judge overturned Rangers' one year transfer ban and a £100,000 fine for bringing the game into disrepute.

The SFA is considering its response, which could mean alternative sanctions.

But sports lawyer Dr Gregory Ioannidis said if further punishment is not imposed for the court challenge, Fifa could ban all Scottish clubs.

The articles of world governing body Fifa and Uefa state that association decisions cannot be challenged in an ordinary court.

Prior to the Court of Session decision on Tuesday, Fifa said it wanted Rangers' request withdrawn from the ordinary courts.

Lord Glennie said the transfer ban should be reconsidered by the SFA appeal panel on the grounds it was not one of the sanctions listed in the association's own regulations.

FIFA executive committee member Jim Boyce has told BBC Scotland that, as yet, there has been no mention of the dispute between Rangers and the SFA within Fifa.

However, Northern Irish representative Boyce said the situation could change: ''There's every possibility that Fifa or Uefa will be given all the details and so become aware of the situation,'' he said.

While St Mirren chairman Stewart Gilmour claims that Rangers have set a dangerous precedent by going to the Court of Session.

"Sport should stay within sport," he said, adding that: "The law is an ass."

"What's a court getting involved in football for? The decision had been made.

"Are we going to take every single sending-off to court? Is that what we are going to end up with?

'Damaging' situation

Rangers administrators Duff and Phelps said the club's position had been vindicated and that they would study the judgement and consider their course of action.

The disrepute charge was handed down mainly over the club's failure to pay more than £13m in taxes last season.

The SFA said it was surprised by the Court of Session verdict and would consult its legal advisers. Options it can consider over the disrepute charge include a further fine, suspension from the Scottish Cup and expulsion from the game.

Dr Ioannidis, one of Europe's top experts on sports law, told the BBC's Newsnight Scotland the court challenge could also have wider implications for the game.

He said: "It's going to be damaging for Scottish football.

"If the Scottish Football Association decide not to take action against Rangers in relation to Rangers submitting the application to the Court of Session then Fifa can penalise both the Scottish association and the individual clubs and the national team of Scotland and impose an international ban on all of them."

Dr Ioannidis said Fifa had threatened such bans in the recent past, including in the case of FC Sion, who were thrown out of the Europa League for fielding ineligible players.

The SFA has three weeks to decide on its course of action. A Fifa spokesman said: "Fifa will closely monitor the situation so that the issue is resolved as fast as possible."

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