SPL says Rangers have 'case to answer' over player payments

Ibrox Stadium

The Scottish Premier League says Rangers have "a prima facie case to answer in respect of [league] rules" over payments to players.

Rangers were investigated over alleged player payments outside of contract.

"Disciplinary charges will be brought when the future status of Rangers FC is clarified and prior to the start of season 2012/13," said an SPL spokesman.

Meanwhile, SPL member clubs will vote on whether a newco Rangers should be admitted to the league on 4 July.

Scottish Premier League symbol and logo
SPL clubs will vote on the Rangers 'newco' application on 4 July

Rangers' attempts to exit administration via a company voluntary arrangement failed after major creditor HM Revenue and Customs turned down the proposal and the club's assets have been transferred to a new company while Rangers Football Club plc is liquidated.

The club's new chief executive Charles Green has made an official request to transfer Rangers FC plc's share in the SPL to the 'newco' to allow top flight football to continue at Ibrox.

However, the issue has to be voted on by all 12 members - including Rangers - and Green needs at least seven other clubs to vote in favour of the request.

If five or more clubs vote against it, a club from Scottish Football League Division One would replace Rangers in the SPL and Rangers would likely apply for the vacancy that would be created in Division Three after other clubs have moved up a division.

It is unclear whether Dunfermline, who were relegated after finishing bottom of the SPL last season, or Division One runners-up Dundee would replace Rangers in the event that the newco is not admitted to the top flight.

With uncertainty over Rangers' status for season 2012/13, their name has been replaced by "Club 12" in the SPL fixture list released on Monday morning.

"An application for registration of transfer of Rangers' SPL share has been received," said the league's spokesman.

"Consideration of the application will depend on receipt by the SPL board of all required documentation and verification.

"A general meeting of all 12 member clubs has been convened for 10am on Wednesday 4 July 2012 for members to decide whether to approve the transfer."

St Mirren and Motherwell released statements in the wake of the announcement of the vote date with the former indicating they would "take any decisions that are required, in the best interests of St Mirren" and the latter saying they would "discuss the issue with supporters".

The Scottish Goverment also waded into the debate, insisting they want "to see a resolution that protects jobs, enables Rangers to meet its obligations to the taxpayer and provides clarity and reassurance to all those connected to Scottish football as a whole".

Rangers' use of employee benefits trusts during a decade-long period was the subject of a long-running tax tribunal, which concluded in January but has yet to return a verdict.

The SPL began its own investigation into whether Rangers had broken its rules after the tribunal concluded.

"The SPL board heard a report from its solicitors following the investigation into payments to, or for the benefit of, players allegedly made by Rangers FC outside of contract," added the spokesman.

"The delay in concluding the investigation was caused by an initial lack of co-operation from Rangers FC.

"The investigation has now been completed and, in the view of the SPL, there is a prima facie case to answer in respect of its rules."

The league has not specified what sanctions could be imposed if Rangers are found to have been in breach of rules and which parties the punishments would be levied upon, given the recent changes in ownership.

Prior to last week's acquisition of the club's assets by Green's consortium, Rangers had been owned by Craig Whyte, who bought the club from Sir David Murray last year, ending the latter's 23 years as majority shareholder.

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