It starts with riders seemingly going as slow as they can, often stopping dead still on the steep walls of the velodrome track, as they jockey for the best position, before a frenetic finish ensues. As the London Olympics creep ever nearer, it seems somehow appropriate that Rangers and the Scottish Football Association should adopt similar cat-and-mouse tactics in their ongoing dispute over what constitutes a fair punishment for the Ibrox club for bringing the game into disrepute.
Rangers have plenty to focus on right now, including their attempts to push through a Company Voluntary Agreement to take the club out of administration, but the possibility of heavy sanctions for deliberate non-payment of taxes on owner Craig Whyte's watch threatens to overshadow all of that. It has been a protracted process. The original judicial panel decided a 12-month transfer embargo was an appropriate punishment for Whyte's actions, a decision upheld by an independent Appellate Tribunal. Rangers felt that such a sanction was not within the SFA's remit, appealed to the Court of Session who duly found in their favour. Now the Appellate Tribunal is set to sit again to try to find an alternative punishment, all the time aware FIFA are monitoring their actions, with world football's governing body unhappy that domestic law courts have been used at all in this dispute.
Rangers argued they had no alternative but to go the Court of Session, the SFA retorted that the Court of Arbitration for Sport was an option that Rangers didn't explore, to which the Ibrox club responded again that nobody from the SFA had made that clear to them. And so it goes on.
Both parties had 21 days in which to appeal Lord Glennie's decision but neither is likely to do so. The SFA, however, seem in no rush to set a date for the recovening of the Appellate Tribunal, despite serious ramifications for Rangers and Scottish football as a whole should Lord Carloway elect to hand out an even tougher sanction such as a suspension or even termination of Rangers' SFA membership.
The panel won't meet before this Friday, but it looks unlikely it will be next week, and it might be the week after that. It seems the SFA are happy to wait and see how other storylines develop before asking their panel to form another judgment. And a lot is scheduled to take place between now and June 18.
The SFA will hold a board meeting before their AGM tomorrow and, although it is understood there are no matters directly pertaining to Rangers on the agenda, there will be a reminder to member clubs of the responsibilities they signed up to unanimously just a year ago. The transfer window also reopens later this week at which point Rangers will discover whether the reduced-fee release clauses inserted into several of their squad's contracts prove enticing to possible bidders looking to get first-team internationals at a fraction of their usual price.
Then, perhaps most significantly, there is the meeting on June 14 when creditors are expected to vote on the CVA proposal, should prospective buyer Charles Green have lodged the requisite sums with administrators Duff & Phelps by then.
Should the CVA fail, then Green will be expected to form a Rangers newco at which point the other 11 clubs will decide whether to admit this phoenix club directly into the SPL or not. The SFA may find it prudent to wait to see how that all plays out before asking the Appellate Tribunal to sit again. After all, if Rangers in its current guise were to cease to exist, then it seems unlikely that any newco would be granted SFA membership then have it immediately suspended or revoked.
Rangers still have some moves of their own to play. While happy with Lord Glennie's assertion that the SFA did not have the power to impose a transfer embargo, they were less happy with the decision to return the case to the Appellate Tribunal. Green's legal team have been, therefore, weighing up a possible appeal over the holiday weekend, preferring that the case is heard again by the original judicial panel rather than by Lord Carloway given the Appellate Tribunal had previously expressed a view as to what the alternative penalty to a transfer embargo should be.
The wait for a tribunal date should not greatly impact on the attempts to push through a CVA but could impinge on Green's bid to encourage further investment in his consortium. After all, only the carefree or foolish would commit substantial funds to a football club that could find itself out of action for a year or, at worst, banned altogether.