Scotland hit V-sign pair with life ban

Ferguson and McGregor also suspended by Rangers following obscene gestures
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The Independent Football

The club handed out the maximum sanction available after the pair were summoned to a meeting with chief executive Martin Bain, having been sent home from training earlier in the day. Both players were involved in a drinking session at Scotland's team hotel at the weekend and then enraged club and national team management by apparently making V-signs while on the bench on Wednesday, having been dropped for the 2-1 win over Iceland at Hampden Park.

The Scottish Football Association first claimed the matter was closed but then acted yesterday afternoon by announcing Ferguson and McGregor would no longer be considered for international selection.

The SFA has been besieged by phone calls and emails from Scotland fans. It is understood the negative reaction from supporters and supporters' groups added to the pressure for the matter to be discussed again.

Following a further meeting between chief executive Gordon Smith and manager George Burley, sanctioned by the SFA board, it was decided neither player would play for Scotland again.

An SFA spokesman said: "In light of the events of the past 48 hours and following further discussions between the national team manager and the chief executive, it has been decided that Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor will no longer be considered for international selection by Scotland. This action has been taken in the best interest of the squad, the fans and the country.

"We are determined to qualify for the World Cup and we must ensure that nothing is allowed to distract us from achieving this goal."

Ferguson – who has been stripped of the captaincy at Rangers – and McGregor were called to a meeting with Bain at Murray Park, where they were informed of the action being taken by the club. Bain said: "The overall conduct of the players during the last week while on Scotland duty has, regrettably, fallen considerably short of the standards expected by Rangers Football Club and our supporters, and has brought the club into disrepute.

"The management of the club has taken the view that this has damaged both Rangers and Scotland and is unacceptable. Even though our club is entering the critical stage of the league season and the later stages of the Scottish Cup, appropriate disciplinary action was required."

Rangers have agreed with the players that part of their deducted wages will be donated to charity.

Both players issued an apology for their actions and spoke of their disappointment that their international careers were now over. Ferguson said: "I deeply regret what happened last weekend and the events during the last week and apologise wholeheartedly for the embarrassment caused to Scotland, Rangers, both sets of supporters and my friends and family.

"I am bitterly disappointed by the announcement that I will not be selected for Scotland again."

McGregor – who made his competitive debut against the Netherlands on Saturday – added: "I was delighted to be selected for Scotland last weekend and I am deeply sorry over what has happened since then. We all make mistakes in life and I am very disappointed to have let Rangers, Scotland, my family, all the fans down. I am also desperately disappointed that I will not be selected again for Scotland."