Ferguson stripped of Rangers captaincy

Barry Ferguson was stripped of the Rangers captaincy and sent home from training on Friday along with goalkeeper Allan McGregor after being dropped from the Scotland team in midweek for a breach of discipline.

"Barry Ferguson has been deposed as Rangers captain and sent home from training today along with goalkeeper Allan McGregor in lieu of their actions at Scotland's World Cup qualifier with Iceland on Wednesday," said a statement on the Rangers website.

"It is common knowledge that Ferguson and McGregor were involved in a drinking session with other players... on Sunday and that Scotland manager George Burley decided to leave them on the bench for the Iceland match as a result."

However, the club said it was gestures the two players made on the bench at Hampden Park during the Iceland qualifier that particularly angered Rangers and manager Walter Smith.

"The most disappointing aspect for me was the subsequent reaction on the bench and from the club's point of view I don't think that was a good image to portray," Smith said on the Scottish Premier League club's website.

Newspaper photos and TV pictures appeared to show the pair making V-signs while sitting on the bench at Wednesday's game.

Smith added that the two players would not feature in Rangers' next league match at Falkirk on Sunday.

"It's not something that we would have wanted but the timing of it is not in our own control," added Smith.

"We have to react to the circumstances and it's regrettable that it has happened at this time.

"They were sent home from training today and will return later when they will meet Martin Bain, our chief executive, and the club will make a statement after that."

FA INQUIRY

Ferguson, who has 45 caps, and McGregor, who has played four times for Scotland, were allowed by Burley to sit on the bench to watch the Group Nine match with Iceland, which Scotland won 2-1 to boost their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 finals.

Meanwhile, the fall-out from the drinking session that followed the 3-0 defeat by Netherlands in Saturday's qualifier intensified on Friday when George Peat, president of the Scottish FA, ordered an inquiry into the affair.

Peat reopened the affair after Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith and Burley had said the matter was closed.

Peat told the Daily Record newspaper on Friday: "I want a full, detailed explanation about exactly what happened at the team hotel on Sunday morning".

"Who gave the players permission to have drinks and why?"

Peat was also angry about the reaction of the Rangers pair when they were on the bench at Wednesday's qualifier and said: "I want to know who those gestures were aimed at".

Regarding the drinking session he added: "I want to know exactly what the behaviour of the players involved was like and if there were complaints made to the hotel by guests who may have been upset by what they saw or heard.

"It will be up to either the manager or chief executive to bring that information to the table. When the full report is ready, it will go before the full board and then we will see where we take it from there."

The SFA said on Thursday that Scotland players will be issued with a code of conduct and Peat warned that a repeat of the incident at the weekend would result in Ferguson being stripped of the Scotland skipper's armband.

"When this code is in place, any breaches of the rules similar to the events on Sunday would or could result in players being automatically removed from the squad or even the captaincy," he said.