I had to ban duo, insists Scotland boss Burley

April 5, 2009

Scotland manager George Burley insists he had to end the international careers of Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor in order to retain the respect of his players.

Burley claimed the pair had a future in his squad immediately after Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Iceland.

The Rangers duo had been banished to the bench as punishment for taking part in a Sunday-morning drinking session at the team hotel.

However, Burley and Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith were then angered by skipper Ferguson and goalkeeper McGregor's apparent V-signs while sitting on the bench.

And, after an angry public response to photographs and television footage of the gestures, Burley felt they had to set and example by handing them lifetime Scotland bans.

"I met with Gordon Smith on Thursday and we talked through the arrangements at Cameron House and the events leading up to the game," Burley said.

"We knew we had to make sure what happened would never happen again and also we really wanted to draw a line under it.

"At that stage, I hadn't really seen any papers or watched the match again. When I did, I realised we needed to speak again.

"The gestures had clearly made a lot of people very angry and this was obviously something completely different to the incidents at Cameron House.

"We talked again first thing on Friday morning and Gordon, George Peat and myself were in agreement about what needed to be done.

"It's not a decision that was taken lightly, but the SFA have to set an example to other players.

"I have to have the respect of the players and I have to make tough decisions."

However, SFA president George Peat appeared to question Burley's judgment today when he argued both players should have been sent home following their behaviour at Cameron House Hotel.

"I would have sent the two players home right away," Peat told the News of the World.

"When I heard the reasoning behind them not being sent home I thought 'okay, fair enough, let's just concentrate on Wednesday's game'.

"But when I saw what happened on the bench during the Iceland game, it strengthened my opinion that more needed to be done.

"The pictures from during the game on Wednesday were flashed around the world and they painted Scottish football in a very poor light."

Peat has demanded a report into the events in time for Thursday's SFA board meeting, where the controversy will be discussed.

The president has called for full details of who was involved in the drinking session, which saw just McGregor and Ferguson punished despite claims others were involved.

Fresh reports today claimed that another player went to bed 20 minutes before the pair on Sunday lunchtime.

However, Burley said: "People are pulling things out of the air, clutching at straws. I was aware of two, that was it. End of story."