SFA postpone hearing into Rangers and Craig Whyte

THE SFA have adjourned their hearing into Craig Whyte and Rangers after Whyte’s lawyers asked for more time to prepare a case.

The hearing, which was to take place in front of a three-man judiciary panel at Hampden today, followed Lord Nimmo Smith’s independent inquiry which ended with the club and owner Whyte being charged with seven breaches of their rules.

Whyte has been told to lodge a response on April 6 and the SFA have set aside April 18, 19 and 20 for Rangers and Whyte to attend the hearing.

The club are charged with five offences, including failing to abide by SFA regulations over the ‘fit and proper person’s test, and Whyte, ruled unfit by the SFA to be a club official, has been charged with two more.

Rangers claim there are mitigating factors and will hope to persuade the panel to distinguish between the actions of one man and the actions of the club.

The SFA released a statement which read: “At today’s Judicial Panel Tribunal at Hampden Park, representatives for Mr Craig Whyte submitted a request by letter for further time to prepare their response to alleged breaches of the Scottish FA disciplinary rules.

“The panel adjourned the hearing, with three days set aside for both Mr Whyte and Rangers FC to attend on April 17, 18 and 20.

“A procedural hearing has also been assigned for April 6 for Mr Whyte to lodge a substantive response and for representations to be made as to state of preparation.”

A statement released by Paul Clark, of Duff and Phelps, read: “We are disappointed the hearing has been adjourned.

“The club’s legal representatives were ready to make the club’s case today which in essence is that there are extenuating and unprecedented circumstances in this case and we hope to demonstrate the distinction between the actions of the club and the actions of individuals.

“We look forward to making our case at the earliest opportunity.”

Rangers and Whyte have both been hit with two identical charges – allegedly breaching rule 66 by bringing the game into disrepute and rule 71, which decrees that clubs and officials should “act in the best interests of Association Football and shall not act in any manner which is improper”.

The inquiry had already judged that Rangers should face disrepute charges on four counts – obligations and duties of members, official return, financial records, and division of receipts and payment of expenses (Scottish Cup).

Rangers have not submitted audited accounts, required by the end of last year.

The Scottish champions have also been accused of failing to comply with the laws of the game’s governing bodies – specifically rule 10.2(g) of the SFA’s own articles of association, which highlights club officials who have been disqualified as a director within the previous five years.

Whyte was disqualified for seven years in 2000 and did not declare this until November 31 – six months after buying out Sir David Murray’s majority stake and six weeks after the penalty was publicly revealed in a BBC documentary.

A separate rule potentially breached states that member clubs shall procure that officials, team staff and players act in accordance with the above Rule 1.

Rangers have also been accused of a breach in relation to their descent into administration.

Rule 14(g) states that membership may be suspended or terminated, or a fine may be issued, where a club suffers or is subject to an insolvency event.

Rangers still await the outcome of a Scottish Premier League investigation into the alleged non-disclosure of payments to players since 1998.

Meanwhile, Dundee United have reported Rangers to the SPL over £19,000 of ticket money they claim they are owed by the Ibrox club.

United are already demanding around £67,000 from ticket sales for the William Hill Scottish Cup tie between the sides at Ibrox in February, a matter which is subject to a ruling by the SFA’s judiciary panel which will take place in April.

The Tannadice club claim that they had an agreement with Duff and Phelps over payment for tickets at the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match at Tannadice on March 17, which has not been honoured.

A United spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that the administrators in control of Rangers have failed to honour an agreement which was in place and we have not received ticket money due from the game at Tannadice on March 17.

“The matter is now in the hands of the SPL.”