Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Scotland to issue players new code after booze shame

AFP , GLASGOW

Frank Hadden throws the ball during a Scotland training session in Saint Denis, France, on Oct. 6, 2007.

PHOTO: AP

Scotland’s soccer players are to be issued with a new code of conduct in a bid to prevent a repeat of the drinking session that saw captain Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor dropped from Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying win over Iceland.

The Rangers duo arrived back from last Saturday’s 3-0 loss away to the Netherlands in the early hours of Sunday morning and started drinking at the squad’s Loch Lomond hotel. This reportedly went on for hours and manager George Burley dropped the pair as a disciplinary measure.

However, the issue was clouded when, in the build-up to Wednesday’s match, it emerged that Ferguson and McGregor would be on the bench.

Home fans at Hampden appeared to side with Burley, booing the names of Ferguson and McGregor, as first international goals from Ross McCormack and Steven Fletcher helped Scotland to an important 2-1 win in Europe zone qualifying Group Nine.

After some of the heat had been taken out of the drinking issue by Scotland’s victory, Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith issued a statement on Thursday which said: “I have met with George Burley today and we have spoken about the events of the past few days. I fully support George’s decision, which was obviously taken with the best interests of the team and the country in mind.”

“He knew how vital it was to win on Wednesday and the action he took was deigned to ensure that we got the three points. What is clear, though, is that this type of incident must not be allowed to happen again,” Smith said.

“George, like any other manager, relies on his players to act in a responsible manner while they are representing their country. We will be issuing players with a code of conduct and will be tightening up arrangements within the team hotel,” Smith added.

“Where any player does not meet the standards required of a Scotland international, they will be dealt with swiftly and effectively. We now consider this matter to be closed,” he said.

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