Neither chief executive Martin Bain nor a club lawyer is entitled to attend today’s meeting of the Uefa Control and Disciplinary body in Switzerland.
That means Rangers can hope for clemency only on the basis of the written submission they have already presented, which highlights previous anti-sectarian work.
The closure of Ibrox for a couple of games is at the higher end of the likely sanctions the club will face if found guilty on two charges of discriminatory chanting during both legs of the Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven last month.
The loss of gate receipts from a couple of home Champions League or Europa League qualifers behind closed doors could cost the club up to £2m at the start of manager Ally McCoist and potentially new owner Craig Whyte’s reigns at the club.
Extensive fines are also a possibility. There are two separate charges relating to home and away behaviour and Rangers fans being banned from two away matches is also within the range of potential Uefa punishments. Rangers were fined £13,300 by Uefa for discriminatory chanting in Villareal in 2006 and £8280 for the same offence in Osasuna the following year.
Bain had said he was “astounded” when Rangers were hit with the charges and vowed to “vigorously” defend the club. He had alleged that there was a “deliberate and targeted” campaign against the club and, while not denying the sectarian problem among a section of its support, was unhappy at the role of the group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) in forcing Uefa to act.
FARE won’t be represented at today’s hearing either but a Uefa source confirmed to Herald Sport yesterday that the group’s report on chanting at the two PSV games had been received and would be part of the prosecution case.
FARE submitted its own observer’s reports on both matches. Uefa’s own match delegate -- Geir Thorsteinsson from Iceland -- had mentioned discriminatory chanting in the first leg in Holland but the Uefa delegate at the Ibrox leg, William Campbell from Northern Ireland, reported nothing untoward. FARE has not disclosed who attended the two Rangers games on its behalf and did not reply when contacted yesterday.
Uefa have previously stated they were satisfied about using reports from outside bodies in their disciplinary cases and that input from various sources was considered valid when it came to disciplining a club.
There are 10 members of the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body although as few as three -- a chairman and two members -- can sit to hear cases. At the end of the hearing clubs are notified of the verdicts and any punishment, and then it is announced by Uefa.
Once the clubs have received written notification they have three days to appeal against any punishments. Those are heard by a different Uefa judicial committee -- the Appeals Body -- and in that event either Bain or other club representatives would be able to plead on Rangers’ behalf.
The Appeals Body can either revoke, confirm or increase any penalties. Ironically the Control and Disciplinary Body cleared Rangers of discriminatory chanting in Villarreal in 2006 but the delegate who reported them successfully appealed against that and the club was fined.
If Rangers go to appeal and are unhappy with the eventual outcome of the current case, then the club can then take the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Today’s hearing will begin around 1pm (UK time) and is scheduled to last for three hours. Rangers’ case is one of several on the agenda and a Uefa spokesman was last night unable to say whether the Scottish champions’ charges would be heard early in the proceedings.
Few will be more interested in the outcome than Whyte. His stewardship beginning with closed doors games at Ibrox -- as well as the consequent loss of up to £2m -- would be a significant blow. Still, the prospect has not deterred him and talks continued yesterday. Current owner Sir David Murray and the club’s lenders, Lloyds Banking Group, have both backed Whyte’s £52.5m bid and it is close to going through.
One sticking point is that the sub-committee of Rangers directors -- set up to vet any potential buyers -- has still to formally endorse the takeover, although Whyte can push a deal through without that if necessary.