Rangers fans threaten to boycott away games after club loses sanctions appeal
GLASGOW Rangers fans could push ahead with plans to boycott away matches after the club lost its appeal against sanctions imposed by the Scottish Football Association's judicial panel.
The administration-hit club had hoped a 12-month transfer embargo and fine of £160,000 would be scrapped upon appeal but their case was thrown out following an appellate tribunal hearing last night.
Thousands of supporters protested outside Hampden last month when the punishment was initially handed down, with fans' representatives also meeting at Ibrox to discuss what action they may take depending on the outcome of the appeal.
Andy Kerr, president of the Rangers Supporters Assembly, told Press Association Sport today: "We had a meeting on the day of the march and there were a whole range of things put forward.
"We said we wouldn't have any knee-jerk reactions and be hopeful the appeals process would help.
"Now we know it hasn't been a help, we will revisit that discussion as a matter or urgency and consider what might be the best actions to take in the interests of the club.
"We need to be careful that we don't end up hurting ourselves at the same time."
He added: "There will definitely be a call not to support away matches because that is directly impacting on the other clubs and they are member clubs of the SFA.
"In terms of the SFA specifically, there has already been some activity in terms of protesting and making representations to their sponsors.
"Potentially, there will be a call not to enter the Scottish Cup because that is the only competition we compete in that's directly under the auspices of the SFA.
"The other one is non-cooperation with national squads."
Rangers were hit with the punishment when they were found guilty of five charges relating to their finances and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman - in particular the non-payment of more than £13million in taxes since Whyte's takeover last May.
Reflecting on the appeal outcome, Kerr said: "My initial reaction was that I was extremely disappointed.
"There was also an element anger, which I'm sure will be felt across the supporter base.
"We were hopeful because when we looked at the reasons for the decision, the rationale behind it and the circumstances in which it occurred, we had a clear view that Craig Whyte was the villain of the piece here.
"It looks as though the way they have reasoned the case is that effectively the actions of the owner apply equally to the actions of the club.
"We think that was totally unreasonable.
"This 12-month transfer ban just appears to have appeared out of nowhere, with no precedent and no other comparison with other cases to determine whether that was appropriate."
Rangers administrators Duff and Phelps suggested last night they could explore further ways of challenging the sanctions.
Kerr said: "If that is the next level, we would all welcome and support that.
"There is a feeling here that the whole spirit of dealing with this within the SFA and through the appeals process has been 'let's hammer Rangers'.
"That's the way it has felt. I think an independent set of eyes and an independent consideration would be something we would welcome."
Kerr believes the transfer embargo - which will prevent Rangers from signing players over the age of 17 - will have wider implications for the rest of Scottish football.
He said: "One of the things that has been a very healthy part of Scottish football over the years is that Rangers have bought players from other Scottish clubs.
"They have effectively propped them up with pretty sizeable transfer fees.
"If I was the chairman of, for example, Motherwell or St Mirren, and I had a promising player, I would be thinking that Rangers might be interested in signing him.
"That money would be very welcome by them I'm sure."