Rangers will appeal against the ban and a £160,000 fine at Hampden next Wednesday but the SFA yesterday released a 63-page report which savaged how the club was run under Craig Whyte and said the punishments were "suitable, relevant and proportionate". The governing body said the punishments had to reflect the fact unpaid taxes were spent on high salaries for players. It considered terminating or suspending Rangers' SFA membership but decided either of those punishments would be excessive.
The SFA yesterday made the unusual move of naming the three men who comprise the Appellate Tribunal which will hear the appeal next week: Rt Honourable Lord Carloway, Spartans chairman Craig Graham and Allan Cowan, the former Partick Thistle chairman. Naming the trio was described as "grossly unfair" by Neil Lennon. "These people do it for the right reasons," said the Celtic manager. "They are under enough pressure as it is."
However, the SFA said police advice had been taken and the trio had approved their names being released.
"It is essential that these panel members are allowed to conduct the appeal without fear of intimidation" said the SFA.
Ally McCoist had called for the Tribunal members who delivered the fine and signing ban to be publicly identified, but despite the SFA findings confirming Rangers already knew who they were the manager insisted yesterday that he had been unaware.
"Other people in the club might have known but I did not," he said. "I understand the three men have been named ahead of the appeal and I am happy about that. I wanted clarity the last time and that's why my nose was out of joint."
McCoist declined to comment at length on the SFA findings but he did concede: "Match-fixing is quite a serious allegation. For that to get mentioned in the same sentence would indicate it's very, very strong."
The SFA's note of reasons was signed off by Gary Allan QC, the Tribunal chairman, and went into great detail about the reasons for the signing ban which McCoist has said could "kill" Rangers.
The 27,000-word report said the punishment was appropriate. "The Tribunal was dealing with a club at the top of Scottish football who had a history of signing top flight players, who, logic demanded, commanded commensurate salaries. It appeared that in a case such as this the punishment should relate in some meaningful way to the unpaid taxes arising from high wages and salaries amongst certain players.
"It appeared to the Tribunal that a temporary prohibition on registering any new players during a period of twelve months was a suitable, relevant and proportionate sanction. The Tribunal recognised that it would place pressures on Rangers FC and accordingly limited the period and specifically excluded from the prohibition the registration of persons under 18.
"The Tribunal was of the view that whilst the sanction was severe it was not excessive. The registration prohibition struck a balance which was relevant to the mischief and proportionate to the breach.
"On any view the matters involved in this case are as serious offences against the ordinary standards of corporate governance as one could imagine. The Tribunal attempted in its exercise of fixing these matters on the scale of offences to identify a more serious offence than those on the complaints, and concluded that only match-fixing in its various forms might be a more serious breach. It had no hesitation in concluding that the breaches struck at the heart of good corporate governance and social and financial probity and responsibility. They brought the game into serious disrepute. As such, they required to be regarded as at the top of the scale of seriousness."
The report said the non-payment of taxes by Rangers under Whyte had been intentional and done in a calculated manner. "Whatever their position a number of individual directors and employees must have known what was happening within Rangers was entirely wrong and illegitimate but they chose to do nothing to bring it to the attention of the public."
That conclusion is at odds with Rangers' belief that the club was powerless to act against Whyte's wishes. The SFA did, however, note that Rangers had no disciplinary record for any similar offences and had conducted itself in an exemplary manner throughout the disciplinary process.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, expressed his disappointment that the SFA chose not to distinguish between Whyte and the club when reaching their decision in the initial hearing. "We have noted today the publication of reasons for the findings," he said. "As stated previously we were very disappointed that the panel did not differentiate sufficiently between the actions of the club compared with the actions of individuals."
Read the report here