Smith accuses Barry over blast timing
Ferguson launched a stinging attack on the Scottish Football Association over their handling of the 'Boozegate' affair in an interview published in Monday's Evening Times. SFA chief executive Smith insisted he had yet to read the article in which Ferguson brands the organisation a "joke", but he was more than suspicious about the timing of it. "The timing's obviously planned to try to be negative regarding something to do with the team," said Smith, speaking at Glasgow Airport as the Scotland squad arrived for their flight to Oslo. "If Barry Ferguson wants to make comments, that's entirely up to him. "Regardless of what he said, we have no response to it because we're just concentrating on an important game." Ferguson and Allan McGregor were banned from representing Scotland ever again for their behaviour while on international duty against Holland and Iceland last season. The pair indulged in an early-hours drinking session at the team hotel in the wake of March's World Cup qualifying defeat in Amsterdam. They then reacted to being dropped to the bench against Iceland days later by flicking V-signs at photographers. Smith added: "All of a sudden, after four months, to speak this week is a major aspect of it." Scotland assistant manager Terry Butcher also claimed he had not read the article but was just as critical of its timing. "It's not good timing when it comes two days before one of the most important matches Scotland will ever play," he said. "I'm sure the squad will just be focused on getting the result out there so we'll leave it at that." If the article was designed as a distraction, Butcher was confident it will fail. He added: "There's some young players out there, some exciting young players as well as older players as well. It's a very good blend. "It's a squad that's evolving, it's a squad that's going forward and hopefully going forward well in Oslo." Ferguson, who left Rangers for Birmingham this summer, said in the interview: "The thing that rankles with me now is the way the SFA handled the entire situation - for me it was a joke. "I had played for Scotland 45 times, I had captained my country for years - and they sent a fax to Murray Park saying that I would never play for my country again. It was just the same statement they put out, that was it! "That just astonished me. The machine starts to ring, and in comes a fax from Hampden for my attention telling me that I would no longer be picked, and neither would Allan. "The people in the room just looked at each other in total disbelief - is that how something like that should be handled? "No-one has ever spoken to me from the Scotland set-up. Not the manager, the chief executive, a PR guy, anyone. I was driving back into Murray Park after being sent home for a few hours and I heard on the radio that the SFA were going to ban me for life. "I was in such a whirl that I wasn't taking anything in - then a fax arrives and that was it over... no phone call, no anything. That, for me, sums the SFA up. They don't know how to handle anything properly." It's understood the SFA dispute Ferguson's version of events, claiming there had been phone calls with Rangers chief executive Martin Bain before the statement was released. Despite his criticisms, Ferguson is contrite about the behaviour which led to his ban. He said: "I was totally in the wrong with what happened at the hotel. I would never sit for a second and try to dress that up in any way or try to make a case for what went on that night with the drinking. "If I could go back and change things, I would - of course I would. I should have gone to bed, and I should never have made the V-signs - when I see the pictures of that I feel so stupid. I looked like a daft idiot and I should have known better. But it was an error, a bad call. "I let myself down, my family down, my country down and I let Walter Smith, Rangers and the supporters down. That's something I'll need to live with and it does still hurt me. "But I made a mistake and people do that - I am a human being, not a robot and I made a costly mistake."
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