CRAIG Whyte is not expected to show up at Hampden today to face a charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
The shamed Rangers owner's case will be heard by the Scottish Football Association, but Whyte has not been seen publicly in Glasgow since February 14, the day he put the club into administration. The SFA has received no indication that he will turn up in person to defend himself or lodge any appeal today.
Last night it emerged that the SFA want Celtic manager Neil Lennon to explain himself for a third time about comments on referees, but today will be about Whyte and Rangers.
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Rangers face five SFA charges today, too, and are also accused of bringing the game into disrepute. They will be represented by the administrators from Duff & Phelps and it is thought that Simon Shipley will be at the hearing, along with Rangers' head of administration, Andrew Dickson, and club solicitors. They will stress that Whyte and Rangers should be treated entirely separately and that the club is in the dock only because of the actions of Whyte himself. Administrator Paul Clark has previously said he would look forward to stating Rangers' case to the SFA and claimed there were mitigating factors which would enable him to "demonstrate the distinction between the club and the actions of any individuals".
If Rangers' guilt is confirmed, the club could be penalised with sanctions which are suspended, such as a fine which would be payable only when the club is out of administration or in the hands of new owners.
Whyte has been seen at his homes in Monaco and London, and at Castle Grant in Grantown-on-Spey, which he also owns, since last being seen in Glasgow, six weeks ago. But it would be a major shock if he turned up for today's hearing. It is expected that a solicitor will represent him and possibly appeal for an adjournment of his case, on the basis that he needs more time to assemble his defence. So far Whyte has given the governing body no indication of whether or not he intends to contest the charges against him. Although he is named in the charge sheet, individuals are not always required to attend and in theory the case could be heard in his absence.
Whyte and Rangers both face two identical charges of breaching SFA rule 66, by bringing the game into disrepute, and rule 71, which states that clubs and officials should "act in the best interests of Association Football and shall not act in any manner which is improper".
The charges arose from Lord William Nimmo Smith's independent inquiry into Whyte's ownership of Rangers, after which the SFA ruled that Whyte did not meet their "fit and proper" criteria to hold a position with a club.
Rangers face a charge of breaching SFA rule 1(b) by not following the SFA statutes and directives. They are further accused of contraventions in relation to the official return [the form on which club officials' details are submitted to the SFA], their financial records and the division of receipts and payment of expenses in the Scottish Cup. The latter relates to non-payment of ticket money due to Dundee United for the clubs' fifth round tie at Ibrox in February.
Rangers did not submit audited accounts which were required by the end of last year. The club is accused of failing to comply with the SFA rule under which a club must indicate if any of its directors had been disqualified as a director within the previous five years. Whyte had been disqualified from serving as a company director between 2000 and 2007, before taking over Rangers in 2011.
The club is also accused of breaching SFA rule 2, that member clubs shall procure that officials, team staff and players (ie Whyte) act in accordance with the above rule one. Rangers also have been charged with a breach in relation to the fact they went 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.
The Whyte and Rangers cases will be heard by an SFA Judicial Panel – selected from a large pool of "football people" – which could decide to grant any case for an adjournment. It is also likely that the case may not be heard in full this afternoon, which could lead to the panel having to reconvene at a later date having reached only a partial verdict, or none at all, today.
The Whyte and Rangers cases will take up most of the Judicial Panel's day, but first it will consider Celtic's appeal of wrongful dismissal on behalf of Cha Du-Ri in Sunday's Old Firm game. The case has been fast-tracked because Cha would have been suspended against St Johnstone on Sunday as a consequences of the red card at Ibrox.
Last night it emerged that SFA compliance officer Vincent Lunny had written to Neil Lennon for the third time in just over a week, asking him to explain comments made about referees in an interview in Tuesday's Evening Times. Ahead of their match against St Johnstone, Lennon was quoted as saying: "It will be nice just to be able to go out and think only about winning a game of football – and maybe have a decent refereeing performance into the bargain." That could be seen as a breach of SFA rule 69, which prevents managers commenting on referees before games, a rule which was implemented at the start of the season. Lennon has until Friday to respond.
The Celtic manager was served with a notice of complaint by Lunny on Monday after being sent off by referee Calum Murray at half-time at Ibrox the previous day, a decision which Lennon described as "a joke".
Lunny had already written to Lennon asking him to explain comments following last week's 1-0 Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat by Kilmarnock at Hampden when he referred to referee Willie Collum's decision not to award Celtic a late penalty as "shocking" and "criminal".
Meanwhile, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino gave a warning relevant to Rangers yesterday when he said that any club, no matter how big it was, would be banned from the Champions League and Europa Leagues in the future if it did not pay its taxes.