Rangers hit with fine and ban
Rangers have had their fans banned from attending one European away games after the Scottish champions were found guilty of sectarian chanting by their supporters in both legs of their Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven.
Rangers will have to play their next European tie, which is likely to be a Champions League qualification game, without their fans for the away leg. They have also had a further one-match away ban and one at home suspended for three years. They have been fined £35,558 as well.
"The UEFA control and disciplinary body meeting today in Nyon has confirmed the following sanctions against Rangers FC after the two legs against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Europa League round of 16," a UEFA statement read.
"Following a charge of discriminatory behaviour at the first leg match against PSV Eindhoven on March 10, 2011, Rangers FC have been fined €40,000 and the club is restricted from selling any tickets to its supporters for two away matches in UEFA club competitions (with the respective home clubs also not authorised to sell tickets to Rangers FC supporters).
"This ban applies to Rangers FC's next away match and is suspended for the second away match for a probationary period of three years.
"The control and disciplinary body also fined the Scottish club a further €40,000 for discriminatory behaviour at the second leg match on March 17 and ordered Rangers FC to play their next home UEFA club competition match behind closed doors. This sanction is however deferred for a probationary period of three years.
"An appeal by the club must be made within three days of the dispatch of the reasoned decision.''
Rangers chief executive Martin Bain said the club were considering whether to appeal the sanctions. He also reiterated "serious concerns'' about the evidence compiled by FARE, the organisation who submitted the report to UEFA highlighting the behaviour of Rangers fans.
Bain said in a statement: "We are bitterly disappointed that our club has been placed in a position where we are subjected to these kind of sanctions by UEFA. We will consider our position when we receive the written reasons for the decision which are expected in a week or so.
"The club put its own case very forcibly to UEFA and the more draconian sanctions that were recommended by the disciplinary inspector have been mitigated to a degree. To be clear, we condemn sectarianism and there is no doubt the mindless behaviour of an element of our support has exposed the club to a very serious situation.
"The people who engage in this type of behaviour are damaging the club they claim to support. It is abundantly clear from this decision that if there is any sectarian singing at future matches the suspended bans will take effect. Those fans who engage in such activity need to take that message on board.
"The majority of our fans understand the situation and would much rather focus on football. They show that clearly at Ibrox and the tremendous atmosphere they created at last weekend's Old Firm match was a case in point.
"In terms of the UEFA case brought against us, we have had serious concerns about the integrity of the evidence compiled by the FARE organisation and that remains the case.
"We are also of the opinion that FARE has been influenced by people who make it their business to damage our club in any way they can. We are committed to the eradication of sectarianism and believe it would have been more constructive for FARE to work with our club rather than against it.
"Instead, they submitted evidence to UEFA with a clear objective in mind and have shown a complete lack of transparency or accountability when asked for clarification on various aspects of that evidence.''
Although Rangers were reported on both occasions by FARE - Football Against Racism in Europe - UEFA revealed their delegate for the away leg, Iceland's Geir Thorsteinsson, also mentioned the singing in his report.
But Bain pointed out that the UEFA delegate for the home match - William Campbell, head of operations at the Irish Football Association - had given them a "very favourable'' report.
FARE executive director Piara Powar, speaking earlier this month, responded by saying their observer had no "political, religious or football affiliations'' and was "fully qualified to understand and interpret the behaviour of fans''.
The action is the third time UEFA have punished Rangers for the same offence. Rangers received an £8,280 fine on an improper conduct charge for fans' behaviour at an away UEFA Cup game against Osasuna in 2007, the punishment being largely for discriminatory chanting.
They were previously fined £13,300 for discriminatory chanting and £9,000 following an attack on their opponents' team bus during an away game against Villarreal in 2006.
Rangers were also fined almost £18,000 in November 2009 after their fans clashed with Romanian police during a Champions League match against Unirea Urziceni.