Smith - We had no choice
Walter Smith believes Rangers had no alternative other than to come down hard on Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor
Last Updated: 03/04/09 7:13pm
Rangers boss Walter Smith believes the club had no alternative other than to come down hard on Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor following the pair's indiscretions while away on international duty.
Both players have been suspended without pay for two weeks by Rangers, while Scotland have banned them from ever representing their country again.
Ferguson has also been stripped of the Rangers captaincy following a meeting with chief executive Martin Bain.
Smith was unhappy that the pair were involved in a lengthy drinking session at the national team's Cameron House base upon their return from the 3-0 defeat in Holland at the weekend but was willing to let Scotland boss George Burley deal with the situation.
However, he believes Ferguson and McGregor crossed the line when they apparently flicked V-signs while sitting on the bench during Wednesday's 2-1 win over Iceland at Hampden.
It is those actions which Smith insists have shamed the club and forced Ibrox bosses to act.
"I'm disappointed that we have to take the action that we've taken," he said.
"We don't want to do that but we have to react to a situation that the club has been put in, in the sense that it is an embarrassment for the club.
"It's an embarrassment for the players as well. To see the images portrayed the next morning would be an embarrassing factor.
"It relates to your club as well and that was disappointing. It's not action we would take lightly and, quite honestly, we could do without."
This latest incident follows the decision of two other Rangers players to retire from international football since the arrival of Burley as manager.
Club v country clash
Lee McCulloch quit for family reasons and to focus on his club career, before Kris Boyd told Burley he no longer wished to be considered for selection after being left on the bench for the goalless draw against Norway.
But Smith denied there was a problem between the club and the national team, insisting: "I don't think there is. You have to respect the fact that a couple of players have chosen not to play.
"That's their decision as individuals. It has nothing to do with Rangers in any way, shape or form.
"The players have made that decision on their own.
"I think everyone is fairly well aware that it wasn't only Rangers players who were involved in this incident, it's fairly common knowledge that there were other players involved as well."
Asked whether he encountered any similar situations when he was national team boss, Smith replied: "I don't think we had many opportunities for that when I was Scotland manager.
"Most of the time, the boys went home after the weekend game and then would report back on the Sunday evening.
"I don't think we ever really had the situation where we were in the position they were in last weekend."
He added: "On a Saturday evening after you play, the players are free to go out and do what they want to do.
"But in the environment they were in in the early hours of Sunday morning it was the wrong time and the wrong place.
"I think all the players involved will regret doing that."
Rangers head into Sunday's game at Falkirk trailing Celtic by three points in the title race and Smith hopes the furore over Ferguson and McGregor will not have an adverse affect on their championship hopes.
"We hope we have players to cover the situation," he said.
"We will just have to wait and see about that, nobody can tell at the present moment.
"Both players have been playing on a regular basis for us and both are good players so we are disappointed that action had to be taken."