• MySTV

What really happens when a football club goes into administration

Points deductions, transfer embargos and restrictions on playing in Europe all come into play when a club goes into administration.

Motherwell entered administration in 2002 and have since recovered, with Bryan Jackson (left) overseeing their revival.
©SNS Group

Since the turn of the century, seven Scottish clubs have entered administration. With Rangers new owner Craig Whyte having admitted that he is working to avoid taking the Ibrox club down the same road, the spectre of insolvency still hangs over the national game.

The business implications of calling in the administrators are countless and can threaten the existence of a company, or provide it with a road to recovery. The sporting implications also have to be considered, and with clubs answerable to as many as four different governing bodies for different competitions, can be wide reaching.

We've put together a layman's guide to the rules and regulations regarding administration from the authorities concerned and answered some of the key questions often posed.

How many points will an SPL club be deducted?

The simple answer is 10 points. The only way a club can be deducted more than 10 points is if it goes into administration twice in the same season.

When will they lose the points?

If the "insolvency event" occurs during the season, the points are docked straight away. If it happens in the close season, the club starts the next season on minus 10 points.

Can a club appeal a points deduction?

Only if it can prove it did not go into administration.

What happens if administration lasts over more than one season?

If a club begins a season in administration, they will begin on minus 10 points.

What happens if a club goes into administration twice in one season?

Ten points are docked each time a club goes into administration, unless the events are linked. It is up to the SPL board to decide, this can be appealed.

Will a club still be able to sign players?

No. The only exception is if a team requires an emergency goalkeeper or if a club is looking to replace a player who has left the club. This means no permanent transfer and no loan signings. Clubs can still sell players. The SPL board has the final say.

How many points will a First, Second or Third Division**** (SFL) club lose?

The SFL do not have a set figure. The amount docked from clubs is decided by the board on a case-to-case basis. The SFL are also likely to impose a registration embargo. There are no fixed punishments and the SFL can set any conditions it chooses.

Can an SFL team be thrown out of the league mid-season?

No. Gretna and Livingston were relegated to the Third Division for being in administration but this can only happen in the close season.

What can the Scottish FA do to clubs?

The Scottish FA's Judicial Panel has the power to suspend or terminate the membership of any club which goes into administration. This has never happened.

Alternatively, the SFA can instead choose to “censure, fine, sanction and/or penalise the member in such manner as it considers appropriate”. This has nothing to do with points deductions. The SFA has never exercised this power.

Another option available to the SFA is to exclude a club from the Scottish Cup. This is a new provision which first appeared in the organisation’s articles of association in the 2011/12 season.

Can UEFA do anything to Scottish clubs in administration?

If a club is playing in Europe, it needs a UEFA club licence. If a club goes into administration but has already been given permission to play, it will not lose its licence for the season.

Would a club get a new licence when in administration?

It is unlikely. The club would have to prove it owes no money to other clubs, to its employees, and to HM Revenue and Customs.

Additionally, the club would also have to prove to the SFA it is likely to survive until the end of the season in which the licence applies to. Club licenses are valid for one season and are granted at the start of each season.

What happens when a club wants to exit administration?

A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is drafted for a club to try and reach an agreement with its creditors. Clubs must agree with those it owes money to over how much to pay back, and over what period of time.

Everyone who is owed money is then invited to vote on the proposal. A 'yes' vote is required from creditors up to 75% of the value of the overall debt. For example, if total debt is £10 million, the company must receive the backing from creditors to the tune of £7.5 million.

How long does it take before the club is out of administration?

If a CVA is approved, creditors have a period of 28 days to register their opposition to the decision.

If there is no opposition, the club exits administration and continues in its current form, paying back its creditors over the agreed period of time.

What if a club fails to reach an agreement?

A club may try again to reach a satisfactory agreement with its creditors. But, if is unable to agree a deal, the company will be dissolved and the club will cease to exist.

There is an alternative for football clubs. As was the case in England with Leeds United, the insolvent company can create a "phoenix" club and attempt to transfer every part of the club to a new business, leaving behind the debt.

Part two looks at what happens when a "phoenix" club is born


Scottish Premier League

Scottish Football Association

Scottish Football League


Article by Andy Coyle and Grant Russell

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.