Rangers suspend Sandaza pending hoax call probe

Francisco Sandaza was duped by a prank caller. Picture: Getty
Francisco Sandaza was duped by a prank caller. Picture: Getty
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FRANCISCO Sandaza’s future at Rangers is in doubt after he was suspended amid a club investigation into comments he allegedly made during a hoax telephone call.

The Spanish striker allegedly revealed details of his salary and declared himself open to a move to a better league during a telephone conversation with a person who was pretending to be an agent, which was then broadcast online. After discussions between the former St Johnstone and Dundee United forward, the Ibrox club, and manager Ally McCoist, the player was told to stay away until the inquiry is completed.

Asked if Sandaza could be sacked, McCoist, speaking at the club’s Murray Park training ground ahead of the Third Division clash against Stirling Albion at Ibrox today, replied: “I have no idea, we will have to wait to see what the investigation unfolds.”

However, the former Rangers striker confirmed that Sandaza was “suspended by the club on full wages pending an internal inquiry” and continued: “We are very hopeful that the inquiry won’t last any more than a week but he has been suspended and won’t be coming to Ibrox or Murray Park pending the investigation. We will be issuing a statement after the investigation, we will have more to say then. I can’t say anything that would be to the detriment of the investigation. It is the last thing we need at this moment in time, we have seven players out tomorrow.”

McCoist has not cautioned his players to be careful of being caught out in similar fashion to Sandaza, but they have been warned about the perils of social media.

“This week we have mentioned to the lads the importance of being extremely careful on Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “There have been problems with Facebook and Tweeting.

“I am not for banning these things, I understand they are not everyone’s cup of tea, all I would urge is a bit of common sense shown by our players.

“It is a changing world and everything that is said is picked up in a matter of seconds so the need for caution when you are talking to whoever is of paramount importance.”

Rangers could win the title this afternoon if they beat Stirling and Queen’s Park slip up at Annan.

However, all nine of their opponents this season would join them in moving to an expanded 18-team third tier if league reconstruction proposals are passed in their present form.

Rangers oppose the move, and the fact that the Ibrox club’s ascent to the top flight would not be delayed by the new model was dismissed by McCoist.

The Rangers boss backs chief executive Charles Green in claiming the Ibrox club should be moved into the second tier if they win the title, claiming a precedent was set at the end of the 1993-94 season when Stranraer were promoted, although they only jumped one division after winning the Second Division.

McCoist believes that anything less would render the campaign “worthless”.

“We don’t know if it is going to 12-12-18 or 12-12-10-10 but I would be very hopeful of getting promotion,” he said.

“It would be a real slap in the face for the players and supporters (if we didn’t).

“Everybody is telling me that we would still only be two leagues away from the top league, but that means every other team in the division would be gaining promotion with us, so it would make our whole campaign worthless in my opinion.

“We are going to have to win titles to get back to where we want to be. At this moment in time we don’t know how many titles or what titles but we are certainly going to have to win a number of titles to get back where we want to be.

“This will be the first title and there is absolutely no reason for our supporters and our players to enjoy it any less than they have done with any title beforehand.”

McCoist confirmed that forward Dean Shiels is likely to miss out the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained during the club’s recent 2-1 defeat to Annan Athletic at Ibrox.