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Jun 27, 2012

Skipper and keeper join Gers exodus

Rangers captain Steven Davis - who skippered the side through four months of administration last season - and goalkeeper Allan McGregor have joined the ranks of players declining to transfer their contracts to Charles Green's "newco".

The duo's decision means ten players have now declined to move to the new club amid uncertainty over which level of Scottish football it will be able to play at next season.

Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ness, Rhys McCabe, Sone Aluko, Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Juan Manuel Ortiz and John Fleck have already decided not to transfer their deals.

Scottish Premier League clubs, who meet to vote on whether to allow the "newco" to play in the top flight early next month, must give an 8-4 majority if Green's club is to play SPL football.

But with six SPL clubs having declared that they will vote against -and more thought likely to follow their example - Green now looks likely to seek a place in the Scottish Football League.

That possibility has already seen Raith Rovers and Falkirk declare that they would oppose any league reconstruction allowing the "newco" to go straight into the First Division. A 75% majority vote would be needed for SFL clubs to pass any resolution on possible restructuring of the league to accommodate the new Rangers.

Green has initially threatened players with legal action for breach of contract if they left Ibrox, but PFA Scotland's lawyers have said they believe the football authorities will back their conclusion that the situation means they are all free agents.

"I'm very disappointed, of course, particularly so late in the proceedings," Green told Sky Sports. "It's clear the regulations behind TUPE are if someone has an objection, they have to notify within 24 hours. This is almost two weeks after the day. I think this is just opportunism. I'll definitely challenge it."

Davis said he had decided not to transfer his contract because he wanted to continue playing at the highest possible level.

In a statement, he told Rangers supporters: "Only those that 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 in the knowledge of giving my best years to the club, with European football and challenging for leagues and cups year after year - that's why I came to Rangers. There came a point when I needed to make a decision based on what was best for my short career. I am 27, and I hope you all understand I need to be playing at the highest possible level.

"I've been lucky enough to not only play for but also captain my boyhood heroes and, no matter what I achieve in the future, I'll look back at the time I spent with the club as some of the happiest years of my life."

The developments mean any hopes Green may have harboured of receiving transfer fees for departing players now appear to be slim or dashed. Legal requests for the release of the players' registrations have been sent to the Scottish Football Association.

Rangers players are due to report for pre-season training on Thursday, but it is unclear how many senior squad members - other than Lee McCulloch and Lee Wallace, who have said they will stay - will be there.

The business and assets of Rangers, who were liquidated with huge debts, were bought by Green after he failed to gain the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) needed for the club to exit administration. The liquidation meant the automatic loss of the SPL place belonging to the old Rangers.

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