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Sparks to fly at Parkhead

SUNDAY'S Old Firm clash at Parkhead promises to be one of the tensest ever, with genuine fears that Rangers won't be around in their current form next season.

Since being put into administration by owner Craig Whyte on February 14, the bad news has leaked out of Ibrox on a weekly basis, with Ally McCoist claiming on Tuesday that a 12-month SFA transfer ban could kill the club.

That sanction was imposed for four breaches of the rules with clubs in Austria, Italy, France, Sweden as well as Scotland and England listed among Rangers' creditors.

Last night, the identity of the three-man panel that imposed the transfer ban was revealed on the internet, forcing the SFA and police to step up security measures.

An SFA statement said: "We are deeply concerned that the safety and security of Judicial Panel members appointed to a recent Tribunal has been compromised by a wholly irresponsible betrayal of confidential information.

"The Judicial Panel consists of volunteers from across the spectrum of sport and business in Scotland. They are appointed on the basis of anonymity, yet all three panel members have reported intrusion into their lives, including abusive and threatening communication.

"This has been extended to directors of the Scottish FA. It culminated in a visit by police, who are taking seriously the threats made."

Speaking about his anger at the verdict on Tuesday, McCoist said: "Plain and simply, I think it is an absolutely shocking decision. I found out last night and I was shocked and absolutely appalled by the way this supposedly independent judicial panel was coming down on us in this form.

"Who are these people? I want to know who these people are. I'm a Rangers supporter, and the Rangers supporters and the Scottish public deserve to know who these people are, people who are working for the SFA."

On Sunday, Rangers face their fiercest rivals with the threat of liquidation heavy in the air.

No acceptable or realistic bid has been made for the club, despite being in the third month of administration.

A tax tribunal that could see them hit with a bill of around €85m is still to be delivered, with the Scottish football authorities in the dark about where the club will be next season.

Celtic's title win has been overshadowed by events at Ibrox that resulted in a 10-point deduction in February, but Celtic clinched the championship with five matches left to play.

A home win for Neil Lennon's side would put them 21 points ahead of Rangers with three games left to play, reducing the importance of the 10-point deduction that Rangers suffered.

To top things off, match referee Craig Thomson has pulled out of the fixture, with Calum Murray stepping in. In the last clash of the clubs at Ibrox, Murray sent off two Celtic players and banned Lennon from returning to the dug-out for the second half.

The Celtic boss will watch Sunday's match from the stands, sitting out the final match of his two-game touchline ban for comments made after the League Cup Final defeat to Kilmarnock.


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