Lafferty is told to say sorry for theatrics

Rangers striker 'regrets' his actions which resulted in opponent being sent off
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The Independent Football

Rangers' assistant manager Ally McCoist has described Kyle Lafferty as "foolish" after the Ibrox striker was forced to apologise for the theatrical reaction that saw Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew sent off during the Light Blues' 2-1 win on Saturday.

Lafferty, 21, fell down dramatically after going head-to-head with the former Celtic full-back who was then sent packing by referee Stuart Dougal. The Northern Ireland international expressed "deep regret" over his behaviour, which was criticised by manager Walter Smith who also fined the player.

Aberdeen will launch an appeal against the dismissal, while Rangers will lodge a challenge against defender Madjid Bougherra's red card in the same game following his clash with the Dons' goalkeeper Jamie Langfield.

McCoist made his feelings clear on the Lafferty incident. "We spoke to Kyle at great length," the former Rangers striker said.

"It is obviously something that he deeply regrets – it was a foolish thing to do. I think he has already apologised to Charlie Mulgrew, who was sent off unfairly, harshly. It's hopefully something Kyle will learn from. He now knows he has made a mistake, it is not expected from a Rangers player. The only thing he could have done was apologise and he did, so we can move on."

Lafferty has been widely condemned over the weekend and he moved to draw a line under the embarrassing incident by issuing a statement on "I want to apologise for my actions in Saturday's match with Aberdeen. It was something I should not have done and I deeply regret what happened.

"I will make a personal apology to Charlie Mulgrew because he should not have been sent off. I also want to apologise to the referee and his assistants.

"It is difficult enough for officials to handle important SPL matches without me making it more difficult by behaving the way I did. I also totally accept that I have let down the club and the supporters.

"There are standards at Rangers Football Club that need to be upheld and I have fallen way below these standards. What I did was wrong and I would like to say sorry to the supporters because they should expect better from a Rangers player. Their backing on Saturday was fantastic – as it has been all season – and for me to behave the way I did was completely wrong."

Lafferty may still face punishment from the Scottish Football Association, but the former Burnley player will be free to play in the final Clydesdale Bank Premier League game of the season against Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday.

An Aberdeen spokesman confirmed that the club would submit their appeal against Mulgrew's dismissal today. McCoist is confident that the Ibrox club have a good case with their Bougherra appeal and is hopeful to have the defender available for the trip to Tayside on Sunday where victory will guarantee the title.

He said: "We must be hopeful. I spent the entire morning looking at the incident in great detail. There is no way, in our opinion, that it's a sending off. We've looked at it from six or seven angles and Madjid clearly goes for the ball and, speaking as assistant manager, I would be very angry with him if he didn't go for the ball.

"There was an opportunity in the box, the keeper came for it and he was brave and committed, as both players were. But he was very harshly sent off, in our opinion."

While Rangers' appeal is in the balance, Dougal has reportedly admitted he was conned by Lafferty. The referee said: "Following the game and upon returning home I have reviewed the Mulgrew and Lafferty incidents and my views on these have been emailed to the SFA prior to asking for them.

"While the contents must remain private and the SFA must be given time to consider, it is fair to say I – like most people at the game – was convinced Kyle Lafferty had been the victim of violent conduct but I now see this is not the case."