Naismith and Whittaker reject newco switch

Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker have rejected the transfer of their contracts to the newco at Rangers and consider themselves to be free agents.

The Ibrox outfit, who are now known as The Rangers FC after financial troubles forced them into liquidation, had claimed that all player contracts had been transferred and that anyone disrupting the process would face legal action.

They have, however, seen Rhys McCabe and Sone Aluko object to the decision, and Naismith and Whittaker have now followed suit.

Lawyers acting for the Scotland international duo claim their clients will not be reporting for pre-season training and are seeking new clubs. 

A statement from Simon Catto of HBJ Gateley said: “Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker are formally intimating their objection to becoming employed by the transferee in accordance with Regulations 4(7) and 4(9) of the TUPE Regulations.

“Accordingly, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker will not be attending for training or any other meeting next week and consider themselves to be under no contractual obligations to any party.

“They consider they are not employed by any party and are free to consider any employment options they wish.”

Naismith, who describes himself as a “lifelong Rangers fan”, has scored 28 goals for the club since joining from Kilmarnock in 2007, having originally been a Rangers trainee.

“I have discussed this decision with my fiancée, my family and my advisors. It has been an extremely difficult decision to make but I believe it is the right decision,” he said.

“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.

“As players we collectively saw this as the only way to get Rangers Football Club out of administration by way of a CVA and thereby protect the staff jobs and the history of the club and give the creditors who had also entered into contracts with Rangers in good faith the best chance of being paid.

“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.”

Naismith thanked manager Ally McCoist and his predecessor Walter Smith, among others, for the success he enjoyed with Rangers.

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

“Finally 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 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.”

Defender Whittaker, who joined Rangers in 2007 from Hibs, said: “It has been really difficult time for all connected with Rangers Football Club.

“And this has been such a difficult decision to make. I have discussed it at great length with my wife, family and advisors and believe I have made the right decision to object to joining Sevco.

“I am extremely proud to have played a part in the success during my time at the club including winning leagues and cup titles and a Europa League final appearance.

“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.

“I will always have a great deal of affection for the supporters who have shown me great respect throughout my time at Ibrox, I will always be grateful for the support they have given me as a Rangers player.

“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.

“I am glad that the staff have the opportunity to TUPE over or not and that if they choose to their conditions are protected. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the staff, the players and especially the supporters. Whatever form the new club takes, I wish everyone connected with it the very best for the future.”