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The Curse of Ibrox

THAT players now hold the real power in football was no more evident than at Ibrox last summer.

Solicitor Simon Catto speaks to the press on behalf of Steven Naismith, centre, and Steven Whittaker
Solicitor Simon Catto speaks to the press on behalf of Steven Naismith, centre, and Steven Whittaker

The failure of Charles Green's consortium to arrange a CVA (company voluntary arrangement) with Rangers' creditors gave Ally McCoist's squad the opportunity to leave the club under Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) legislation.

Backed by PFA Scotland, many of them took that opportunity, citing the uncertainty surrounding Rangers at that time as one of the reasons for taking up a new challenge.

Coincidentally or otherwise, however,  most have struggled to make an impact at their new clubs. Some have struggled to land regular first-team football, while others have been beset by injuries or loss of form.

As Rangers continue to seek compensation for six of those players they alleged breached their contracts by refusing to transfer over to Green’s newco, they may enjoy some sort of schadenfreude at the difficulties that have afflicted some of those who chose to move on.

Steven Naismith

What he said
Naismith called a press conference to explain why he did not want to transfer his contract over to Green’s new company. “I’ve never met Charles Green or anyone from Sevco. I don’t know who the investors are or what league they’ll be in. So how can I push forward into a new company that I don’t know anything about or any person involved in it? I have concerns about who is in charge of the new club, definitely. You need to know what business you’re going to be part of. If you don’t, it’s inevitable there will be problems.”

What happened next
Naismith signed a four-year contract with Everton but has flitted in and out of David Moyes’ side. He has scored just three goals in 29 appearances, many of which have come from the substitutes bench, and has become something of a scapegoat for the supporters.

Steven Whittaker

What he said
Appeared at the same press conference as Naismith and admitted the decision to leave had caused him some turmoil. “I didn’t sign up because of the problems they are going to encounter and the sanctions which are going to be put on the club,” he said.

“It’s a short career and I want to try to play at the top for as many years as possible. It doesn’t look like I will have that opportunity if I stay with the new company. I’ve had sleepless nights and endless conversations with my wife and family trying to come up with the best outcome for myself. It’s been very stressful. But I think I’ve made the right decision.”

What happened next
Whittaker signed for Norwich City on a  four-year contract but suffered an ankle injury in pre-season that kept him out for two months. He made a belated debut at the end of October but has made just 10 appearances in total, and none since December 22. Ironically Russell Martin, the Scotland  squad player, is keeping him out of the side.

Allan McGregor

What he said
The goalkeeper chose to focus moreon the road ahead rather than look back when signing a two-year contract with Besiktas in Turkey. “It’s a big club with a  big tradition,” he said of his new employers. “Supposedly they have great fans and a lot of noise in the stadium so I’m very excited.”

What happened next
Despite playing regularly for his new team in the Turkish Super Lig, McGregor is expected to move back to the UK in the summer, with West Bromwich Albion among the clubs said to be interested.

Kyle Lafferty

What he said
The forward said he decided to leave Rangers to  get away from Glasgow. “When you play  for Rangers or Celtic you live in a goldfish bowl and it isn’t fun. Life in Glasgow finally took its toll on me. Even if the club hadn’t encountered financial problems it would have been time to move.

"Glasgow is a great city  but when you walk down the street, half the people love you and the other half hate you. That is fine for a while but it isn’t something  I want my wife or son subjected to.”

What happened next
Lafferty elected to moved to Switzerland, signing  a three-year contract with Sion on a three-year deal. He has struggled for goals, however, with just  four in 17 league appearances.

Jamie Ness

What he said
“It’s been a long two months and obviously difficult times before that,” he said  last summer, referring both to his move  from Rangers and his long-standing groin problem.

“It’s obviously been very difficult circumstances with everything happening. I’ve been at the club since I was a youngster and it’s heartbreaking what has happened  to it. But now I have just got to focus on progressing as a footballer and I feel I’m in the best place to do that.”

What happened next
Ness signed a four-year contract with Stoke City despite having played only 18 times for Rangers. To date he has played only once under Tony Pulis. He had been expected to go out on loan in the second half of the season, although no move materialised.

Steven Davis

What he said
The Rangers captain hoped the fans would understand his decision to move on. “It was obviously a difficult one to make. We never asked to be put in a position where we had  to decide to stay or go. If things had been different, there would have been no reason for me to leave Rangers.

"There will always be a minority of fans who  see my decision in a different light. Everyone has their own point of view. But I hope most supporters understand and respect my decision.”

What happened next
The Northern Irishman signed a three-year contract with Southampton but has been  in and out of the team after scoring on his debut against Manchester City. His only other goal, ironically, came against  the same opposition last weekend. Rangers agreed  a fee with Southampton for him at the time of  his departure.

Rhys McCabe

What he said
“I never wanted to leave,” he said. “Rangers were waiting on the SFA getting back to them and votes being held. Would it be first division, second division, third division, having a team at all?  So we thought we would wait to see what would happen. It all happened too quickly and there was a lack of communication,  so I had to make a decision.”

What happened next
The midfielder moved to Sheffield Wednesday, signing a three-year contract.  He quickly established himself in the side  but has dropped to the bench for the last  few games as Wednesday battle against relegation. As happened with Davis, a fee  was agreed when he left Ibrox.

Sone Aluko

What he said

The forward had the option of an additional year’s contract at Rangers after his original deal expired, but he elected not to take  it up. “You’ve got to be sure it’s the right opportunity for you,” he said.

“I looked at going abroad and a lot of things, but it was  a case of being sure it was the right choice. It’s the next two years of my career I had to think about because it’s an important stage between 23 and 25.”

What happened next
Aluko moved to Hull City to be  reunited with Steve Bruce, his manager at Birmingham City. He quickly became  an established figure in the side – scoring eight goals – before suffering an Achilles injury  likely to keep him out of the team until mid-March.

Maurice Edu

What he said
“I’m no different to anyone else. You want to go as far as you can in this game. You want to see how far you can go. It’s a short career, you know? You want to try and play at the highest levels possible  and test yourself against some of the best players.”

What happened next
The American signed  a three-year contract with  Stoke City but played only  once – 10 minutes as  a substitute – before being allowed to join Bursaspor in January on loan for the rest  of the season.

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