Even seven days before they are due to play their first competitive game of the new season, against Brechin City in the Ramsdens Cup, the club have yet to be granted membership of the Scottish Football Association. Agreement was reached in principal with the club's directors, but the process requires to be ratified by an independent appellate tribunal. There is also a sense of indignation within Ibrox itself.
Ally McCoist was effectively operating as both manager and leader of the club during administration, when there were no directors and Duff and Phelps were in charge. He resumed that role last week, with his voice being the most forceful as a delegation – he was joined by Malcolm Murray, Brian Stockbridge and Imran Ahmed – met with the SFA to negotiate the transfer of the membership previously held by The Rangers Football Club plc, the club's former holding company.
McCoist was not prepared to accept the registration embargo imposed by an independent disciplinary tribunal last April, for rule-breaches and bringing the game into disrepute during Craig Whyte's ruinous ownership.
The sanction was upheld by an appellate tribunal headed by Lord Carloway, but overturned in the Court of Session by Lord Glennie, who ruled the tribunal could only choose from the four sanctions proscribed to it, namely a fine, expulsion from the Scottish Cup, suspension, or expulsion from the SFA.
By applying to receive the oldco's membership, the Rangers directors had to accept the sanctions that were imposed. McCoist, however, was adamant that the registration embargo was unacceptable.
The alternative was following Lord Glennie's judgment and reconvening the appellate tribunal to impose one of the four available sanctions, with the danger of the club being suspended or expelled.
Ultimately, the directors opted to accept the sanction, which will run for 12 months from September 1, giving McCoist some leeway to add to his depleted squad.
"We have had meetings with the SFA all week to discuss membership but I had to leave the final meeting as I could not support the sanctions they were trying to impose," McCoist said. "The decision has already been taken to place Rangers in division three and we have accepted that, along with many more punishments.
"However, operating with an embargo on an already-depleted first-team squad – even with a window to sign players – will make the task ahead an extremely difficult one.
"It is important to remember we have already had a 10-point deduction from the SPL, lost our Champions League place for finishing second last season, had a £160,000 fine, been refused entry to the SPL, been relegated to Division Three and lost the majority of our first-team squad – yet still the governing body has chosen to impose further sanctions."
The situation has become so complex that tensions are inevitable. Rangers could have chosen to allow the appellate tribunal to reconvene, and taken their chances on that outcome.
But if the SFA did not follow Lord Glennie's judgment, they would be found in contempt of court. In effect, Rangers had to choose the least damaging option.
The process also has to be agreed with the SFL and the SPL, with the latter thought to want to be able to impose sanctions if Rangers are found guilty of making undisclosed payments.
It is a consequence of The Rangers Football Club plc failing to avoid liquidation that Rangers were sent to the Third Division and the new owners, Sevco Scotland Ltd, have to accept the sanctions on the oldco, but in a sense it is a punishment. The SPL clubs, and then the SFL clubs, in separate votes had the opportunity to keep Rangers in the top-flight or move them to the First Division, but a majority voted to place the club in the bottom tier of the game.
Many cited "sporting integrity" as their reason, and in effect were punishing Rangers for gross financial mismanagement by two owners: Whyte, who failed to pay VAT and PAYE, and Sir David Murray, whose use of Employee Benefit Trusts and running of the club beyond its means first led Rangers to the brink of financial collapse. It is natural, then, that McCoist and others in the club feel enough is enough.
"I can understand the position the board has been placed in and ultimately they felt they had no choice but to accept some sanctions in order to move forward – as one of the alternatives could have led to the extinction of the club," McCoist said. "I can also assure every Rangers fan I will not be accepting any talk of stripping the club of titles [if it is established that EBT use constituted payments to players that should have been registered in contracts and contravened SPL rules]. Talks will continue next week and we all hope common sense will prevail to allow us to get back playing football."
McCoist was effectively leading the club's case as Green was out the country. The chief executive remains a divisive figure, with many supporters still not prepared to back the new regime financially because they refuse to reveal who owns the club. Green has also irked fans with pledges about the number of backers, investment he would bring to the club and players he would sign, which have not come to pass. Some of the backers he does have will be questioning the worth of their investment: Green thought the club would be in the SPL or, at worst, the first division.
Life in the bottom tier of the game will give little scope for significant profit, always Green's stated aim. His consortium rejected an offer from a group headed by Jim McColl, Walter Smith and Douglas Park, and there are many with a close knowledge of the finances of the club and Green's consortium who still believe he will run out of money.
In the meantime, the business is propped up with a fee agreed with Southampton for Steven Davis, pictured, even though the midfielder left when he rejected his contract being transferred to the new company.
Rangers are also seeking fees for other players who left, with Jamie Ness, Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty having been granted provisional registrations with their new clubs pending arbitration of the contract dispute by the SFA.
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