Zip it, Barry: Ferguson rant was timed to disrupt Scotland, says Smith
Gordon Smith last night accused Barry Ferguson of trying to undermine Scotland's World Cup qualifying bid after the fallen idol branded the SFA handling of the Boozegate affair 'a joke'. The ex-national skipper chose the day Scotland flew out for their crucial qualifier with Norway to break his silence on the shameful actions four months ago that cost him his international career. While admitting his culpability in the affair, Ferguson turned his fire on the SFA, claiming they only informed him by fax that his international career was over. 'That just astonished me,' Ferguson said. '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. 'No phone call, no anything. That, for me, sums the how to handle anything properly.' Sportsmail understands, however, that SFA president George Peat made a personal telephone call to Rangers manager Walter Smith at the time of the affair to tell him of the governing body's decision. And yesterday, chief executive Smith hit back. As the squad prepared to board their flight to Oslo, he said: 'The timing is obviously planned to try to be negative regardingsomething to do with the team. If Barry Ferguson wants to make comments, that's entirely up to him. 'The timing is not an accident in my opinion in fact, it is exactly what you wouldexpect. 'I have nothing personal against Barry Ferguson. I texted him not so long ago to wish him all the best in his new career at Birmingham. 'But we are putting all our focus on Wednesday night's game in Norway.' Scotland haven't played since the April 1 night against Iceland when Ferguson and team-mate Allan McGregor made V-signs in the Hampden dugout. Those actions cost them their international careers and ended Ferguson's long spell with Rangers. As he looks forward to a new chapter in his life at Birmingham City, it is clear the bitterness remains. 'I was totally wrong with what happened that night at the hotel,' said Ferguson. 'But what rankles now is the way the SFA handled the whole affair it was a joke. The whole thing was a bit of a farce, to be honest. First of all, we were to leave Cameron House, then some of the players went to the manager and said they didn't want that, and the next thing we were told to stay. 'The manager then said we'd be subs and then, two days later, we were banned for life and they said it was down to what happened at the game on the bench with the V-signs. 'Fair enough, if they think sending you a fax to tell you it's all over is the right thing to do, then that's up to them. 'Then I hear Gordon Smith saying on the radio the door might not be closed, we could still play. 'That sums it up for me. The left hand never knows what the right hand is doing in that place.'
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