Rangers newco: Sandy Jardine launches attack on defecting players
THE unfolding disintegration of the Rangers first-team squad has prompted a bitter reaction from club legend Sandy Jardine, who has accused those players refusing to transfer their contracts to Charles Green’s newco of greed and dishonesty.
• Rangers legend criticises walk-away players, accusing them of greed and dishonesty • John Fleck and Juan Manuel Ortiz become latest players to walk away from Ibrox
• Kyle Hutton pledges future to newco Rangers and urges fellow youngsters to do the same
Jardine’s rancorous verbal assault came as two more senior players, Spanish winger Juan Manuel Ortiz and Scotland under-21 international forward John Fleck, joined the list of those exercising their right under TUPE employment law regulations to leave Rangers.
It took the number indicating their intention to move on to ten, following similar decisions by Sone Aluko, Rhys McCabe, Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ness, Steven Davis and Allan McGregor in the past few days.
Kyle Hutton, the Scotland under-21 midfielder, last night became the latest player to declare he would be sticking with the newco, joining Lee McCulloch and Lee Wallace. The Rangers players are due to report to Murray Park today for the start of their pre-season preparations.
Speaking to Rangers TV, Jardine claimed those players who have chosen to move on are guilty of taking advantage of the club’s current crisis under the influence of their agents.
“I am dismayed and disappointed by the actions of the players,” said 63-year-old club ambassador Jardine, who made almost 700 appearances for Rangers between 1967 and 1982.
“You have to say that if the players were up front and honest you would respect them more. What they have done is seen an opportunity, whether it is them or their agents, to maximise their income.
“The players took a salary sacrifice but for that they got clauses in their contracts which would allow them to leave on rock bottom prices if clubs came in for them. I have to be honest and I think the players have used our predicament to their gain.
“[Manager] Ally McCoist gave a statement last week where he asked the players not to kid anyone on and to be up front and honest with the supporters. Of course, we as a club don’t expect international players to go down a division or a few divisions. We understand that situation.
“We would be reluctant to see them go, but we would understand. They would move on with our best wishes and we would get a fee, albeit a rock bottom price in comparison to their market value.
“I know they made sacrifices, but the gain will be huge in comparison. The unfortunate thing for us is that we get nothing. What we don’t have an answer for is why the players simply did not adhere to the original deal and allow the club to make money from these reduced fees.
“What we have to do in our situation is to get everything sorted out, know what league we are in, know what players are staying and then start to build from there. If we don’t have money from fees for players leaving – which we are completely entitled to – then what are we supposed to build on, fresh air?
“There was an agreement reached over wage cuts and they got a great deal because they could leave for rock bottom prices and now they have seen an opportunity. In many ways it’s greed.
“A lot of them are being manipulated by their agents but as Ally said, tell us the truth; be up front and honest and don’t put these smokescreens up. I for one don’t believe them and I know the vast majority of the supporters don’t believe them either.”
Rangers newco chief executive Green, who disputes PFA Scotland’s interpretation of the TUPE regulations, repeated his intention to contest the moves by those players who do not agree to transfer their contracts.
“I think this is just opportunism,” Green told Sky Sports News.
“I’m very, very disappointed of course. Particularly so late in the proceedings. It is clear in the regulations, if someone has an objection they have to notify within 24 hours. This is nearly two weeks [since Rangers assets were purchased by the newco]. We will definitely challenge it.”
Hutton, meanwhile, admits he views the situation at Rangers as an opportunity to nail down a regular first-team place next season and has urged other younger players at the club to commit themselves to the newco.
“I look upon what has happened as something which presents me with a chance to play more games for the club,” said Hutton. “As sad as everything which has been going on is, this is still Rangers and it’s an extremely attractive team for people to play for. For me, it is in my best interests to stay and try to establish myself in the side next season.
“I’ve a lot more to give the club. I’m still a young player who is learning his trade and hopefully I’ve a long career ahead of me, so this is a great place to keep learning. I’d say the same to other young players who have yet to make decisions on their futures known.”
Huttonalso believes that the mooted relocation of newco Rangers to the second tier of a reconstructed Scottish league set-up could prove beneficial to a more youthful team. “I enjoyed it in the First Division with Partick last season,” he added. “If that’s where we end up playing, I’d know what to expect and it’s a tough league. For the players who are remaining with Rangers, it’s still a good level to play at and it’ll be a bigger test for us than some might think should we go into that competition.
“Being a First Division player definitely toughened me up. Whatever league we are in, there will be pressure on us to win it and the players who are at Ibrox will rise to that.”
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