Naismith and Whittaker set to leave Rangers

Two stalwarts of the stricken Glasgow side say that they will not be returning to the crisis club and now consider themselves to be free agents
Rangers pair Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker have rejected the transfer of their contracts to the ‘newco’ club owned by Charles Green, and now believe they are free agents.

The club, which has had its assets - including players - transferred to a new company, claims any player who refuses to join the ‘newco’ are in breach of contract and may face legal action to stop them leaving Ibrox.

The decisions of Whittaker and Naismith come after midfielders Sone Aluko and Rhys McCabe also indicated they also would not return to Ibrox.

Former Kilmarnock man Naismith admitted the decision to sever his ties with boyhood club Rangers was a tough call to make.

"I have discussed this decision with my fiancée, my family and my advisors," the 25-year-old said. "It has been an extremely difficult decision to make but I believe it is the right decision.

“As players we were put in a difficult position by the administrators whereby we were asked to take a 75% pay cut to contracts that we entered into in good faith.

"Both Steven and I and our agent fought hard with administrators during negotiations to insert clauses that offered protection to staff and players at the club. I am extremely proud of the actions we took but I am disappointed and angry that Rangers Football Club no longer exists in its original form.

"I would like to thank the fans for all their backing. Everyone knows I am a life-long Rangers supporter and so I share in the disappointment and anger of what has happened to the great Rangers Football Club.

"I am proud of the success we achieved during my time including three SPL titles, a Scottish Cup and two Scottish League Cups.

"I hope that a successful new Rangers can emerge and wish everyone connected with the new club, including Mr Green and his consortium, the very best for the future."

Former Hibernian defender Whittaker echoed the sentiments of his former teammate, and praised the coaching staff for their efforts throughout his time in Glasgow.

"It has been a pleasure to work with Walter Smith, Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall, Ian Durrant, Jim Stewart and the rest of the backroom staff, especially the medical team and all the staff at Ibrox and Murray Park,” the 28-year-old said.

"I am, like Steven Naismith, proud of the players for taking a 75% pay cut, arguably against our own commercial interests. I believe we did the right thing as we could have refused which could have brought about liquidation earlier and/or resulted in significant redundancies.

“Whatever form the new club takes, I wish everyone connected with it the very best for the future."

Despite the duo indicating that they no longer regard themselves as Rangers employees, chairman Charles Green says they are wrong to think of themselves as free agents.

"The transfer of contracts has already happened and the club's clear legal advice is that players' purported objection is ineffective," he said.

"Rangers would like to make it abundantly clear to players, agents and the chairmen and managers of other football clubs that we will take whatever steps necessary to challenge what we regard as a breach of contract to protect the interests of our club."

The ‘newco’s bid to keep the Glasgow giants in the SPL will be decided by a vote by fellow member clubs on July 4.