Rangers have failed in their appeal against suspensions handed to five players for breaching lockdown rules.
First-team players Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey, Bongani Zungu and loaned-out pair Brian Kinnear and Dapo Mebude must serve immediate four-game suspensions.
The players were initially handed six-game bans – with two of those matches suspended – by a Scottish Football Association disciplinary panel, and those punishments still stand.
The five players were given police fines for attending a house gathering during lockdown in the early hours of February 14, and SFA bans were announced on March 30 after they were found guilty of breaking SFA rules and not acting in the best interests of football.
Rangers appealed and Patterson played three games before the appeal hearing on Tuesday evening, including Sunday’s Scottish Cup win over Celtic, before he and Bassey played against St Johnstone on Wednesday.
Patterson, Bassey and on-loan Zungu will now miss Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final against St Johnstone, a league game against Celtic and potentially a semi-final among their four matches.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard had accused the SFA of “guessing” and being inconsistent with the initial punishments.
He highlighted breaches by eight Aberdeen players, who did not miss any games after a night out, and Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli, who served a three-match ban after facing Kilmarnock following a secret trip to Spain.
“We don’t think everything has been taken into consideration when you are talking about the boys in terms of age and how damaging it could be for them in their careers moving forward now,” said Gerrard, who went on to call for leniency for Patterson.
“You’re talking about one of the brightest prospects ever in terms of right-back. This kid is going to go and play for Scotland and all of a sudden the SFA want to ban him for that long. I don’t get it.”