In the last half hour, it has become public knowledge that Sevco Scotland Ltd (also known as “Newco Rangers”) have accepted the one year transfer embargo as a punishment for the “oldco Rangers” bringing the game into disrepute.
Now, if you only read that paragraph, you may well find yourself thinking “fair enough…it’s only fair, and they’ll likely suffer badly this year because of this sanction”.
However, I urge you to read on because sadly all is not as it seems (please note that since this article was written, the BBC has stated that the SFA, SPL, SFL, Rangers and Sevco must all agree to this, not just the SFA, before it is passed officially).
You would be forgiven for thinking that any transfer embargo would begin as soon as it was handed down to the relevant club. However, this is clearly not the case in Scotland. The SFA have stated that the embargo will begin on the 1st September 2012, and end on the 31st August 2013. This means that Sevco will now be able to sign players for the coming season over the next five weeks or so. Next summer, they may will be able to sign players after the 31st of August when the ban ends. However, the 31st is a Saturday. This could mean that the window will still be open on the following Monday, the 2nd of September, meaning Sevco would be able to sign players for the coming 2013-2014 season.
In essence, the Scottish Football Association has only given Sevco a one month transfer ban, meaning they cannot sign any players in January.
Now, whether or not Sevco should be punished for the sins of the oldco (as they are a different club) is debatable. However, what is not debatable is that the SFA have been very, very kind to Sevco with regards to this embargo. Personally, I think they should be punished, as it would discourage any other team from operating high risk (if not illegal) financial strategies in the future. A twelve month ban should mean a twelve month ban; not a five week head start, followed by one month ban, followed by a short time next summer in which to attempt to squeeze in transfers.
We should all remember the “oldco” took the SFA to a Civil Court over the initial decision to hand down a twelve month transfer embargo. Ironically, Rangers won this case, as the judge found that it wasn’t an applicable punishment for the crime of “bringing the game into disrepute”. The Court then declared that the SFA’s appellate tribunal must meet again to hand the club a new punishment. The only applicable punishments were found to be a Scottish Cup ban, the withdrawal of the club’s licence or expulsion from the game altogether.
This tribunal never met again. Neither Rangers nor Sevco ever mentioned it again (because they realised it would be shooting themselves in the foot), and now we are seeing the results…a watered down, weak attempt at justice.
The ban should start when Sevco are officially granted a licence, and end one year later. No “if’s”, no “but’s”. At least if the SFA had done this no one could have accused them of being foolish (or even biased in certain quarters).
Once again, our national game is being embarrassed by those with significant positions in the corridors of power.