Northern Ireland internationals Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty have joined a growing list of players who have no intention of joining the “Rangers newco” that Charles Green is currently seeking to establish in the Scottish Football Leagues.
Last week Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Sone Aluko and Rhys McCabe all claimed to be free agents and refused to enter into contracts with the new club. Their actions were met by the threat of legal action from Green himself.
Those four have now been joined by Allan McGregor and Jamie Ness as well as the Northern Ireland pair who, from Sunday, should be free to seek new employers.
Speaking to the Daily Record, the Northern Ireland captain confirmed that he is putting his career first in his decision to depart Ibrox:
“I have never been one to shout my mouth off. Only those who know me will know how much Rangers mean to me. I felt it was only right to give the fans an explanation of how I’ve agonised so much over this decision.”
“I signed a new contract last year, giving my best years to the club in the knowledge we’d be challenging for leagues and cups and in Europe year after year. That’s the reason I came to Rangers. My young family love life in Scotland but after all that’s gone on since administration in February there came a point when I needed to make a decision based on what was best for my short career.”
“I am 27 and need to be playing at the highest possible level. I have had a great relationship with everyone at the club, from the fans to management right through to the tea ladies, since the day I walked through the door at Murray Park.”
“Hopefully, I’ve repaid everyone by playing my part in teams that have won eight trophies and reached a European final in my four-and-a-half years.”
Lafferty himself has yet to release a personal statement to explain his reasoning. A statement issued by Margaret Gribbon of Bridge Litigation included Kyle in the list of four players who had instructed PFA lawyers to object to any transfer to the Rangers’ newco, but nothing more has been revealed.
The signatures of both men are likely to be in quite high demand with Davis constantly linked with a move to a string of Premier League clubs over the last 18 months. Lafferty had been expected to depart Rangers following alleged bust-ups with manager Ally McCoist towards the end of the season and that had alerted some Championship sides.
Both players may have to wait before signing fresh, new contracts. The situation regarding their “transfers” to the Rangers’ newco remains as clear as mud. It’ll be unlikely any clubs will make an approach to the players until it is settled.