Scottish Premier League

Rangers strip Ferguson of captaincy over V sign

April 3, 2009

Barry Ferguson has been stripped of the Rangers captaincy.

The 31-year-old midfielder was sent home from training along with goalkeeper Allan McGregor as punishment for being photographed appearing to flick the 'V' sign during Scotland's World Cup qualifying victory over Iceland on Wednesday night.

Both players were dropped to the bench for the qualifier by manager George Burley after taking part in a late-night drinking session following Saturday night's defeat in Holland.

Ferguson, who is captain for both his club and country, and McGregor have also been summoned to a meeting with Rangers chief executive Martin Bain on Friday afternoon.

It is understood Rangers will look to inflict the maximum punishment on both players of a two-week fine and ban, while some reports suggest that selling them in the summer is a possibility.

Gers manager Walter Smith refused to speculate on the outcome of the meeting but did confirm the disciplinary action taken was for the alleged 'V' signs more than the drinking controversy.

He said of the latter: ''We were unhappy about that situation but that was something for George to act on. The more disappointing aspect for us was the subsequent action on the bench on Wednesday night. From the club's point of view, that was not a good image to project.''

Smith also confirmed neither player will take part in Sunday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League game with Falkirk, while veteran defender David Weir will skipper the side until the end of the season.

The Ibrox boss admitted the club could have done without the current saga as they look to stay in touch with arch-rivals Celtic in the race for the title.

''It's not something we would have wanted at this time, but the timing was not in our control,'' he said. ''We just have to react to the circumstances and, regrettably, it has happened at this time.''

He added: ''Life goes on. We have to go on without the lads.''

Weir admitted the loss of Ferguson and McGregor this weekend would be a blow.

He said: ''Obviously, I'm pleased to be captain; I've stepped in in the past when Barry hasn't been available. But, obviously, I would rather Barry was the captain. Barry and Allan missing the game is a big loss for us; they are two big players and everyone in the dressing room is disappointed.

''They are two friends as well - that's the most disappointing thing. They are lads that we work with every day, we like them, and it's not great to hear this.''

He added: ''There's been no impact on the squad, but obviously if Barry and Allan aren't playing, that's going to have an impact on the team. But it's only just happening so it's hard to comment.''