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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson stripped of captaincy after Le Guen row

Rangers boss Paul Le Guen has axed captain Barry Ferguson from his first team as the Ibrox turmoil took a dramatic twist.

Gavin Rae will captain instead of Ferguson in tomorrow night's Bank of Scotland Premier League match at Motherwell.

Le Guen will elaborate on the reasons for dropping Ferguson after the match, although tonight it cast doubt on the midfielder's Ibrox future.

Cracks began to appear when Le Guen questioned the importance of a captain's role a few weeks ago, prompting Ferguson to hit back in the press.

Today's move suggests Ferguson could have played his final game under Le Guen.

The former Lyon boss is once again under pressure after Saturday's 1-1 draw with St Mirren left Rangers third in the SPL and trailing Old Firm rivals Celtic by 17 points.

However, Le Guen has demonstrated in the past that he is not afraid of making difficult decisions.

He sent Fernando Ricksen home from the pre-season trip to South Africa following an altercation with an air stewardess on the team flight.

Ricksen then joined Zenit St Petersburg on loan, before making the move to Russia a permanent one.

Phil Bardsley also failed to play for Rangers again after Le Guen banned him from the UEFA Cup game in Livorno after the on-loan Manchester United defender was involved in a training-ground incident with team-mate Thomas Buffel.

Rangers fans have demanded an explanation from the club.

John Macmillan, secretary of the Rangers Supporters' Clubs, said: 'I am absolutely astounded - almost lost for words. The fans need to be told openly what is happening, it's the least they deserve.

'We need to be given reasons and there should be a clear and concise statement explaining what's going on in the next 24 hours.'

He added: 'The majority of the fans believe one of the few players displaying the fighting spirit needed is Barry Ferguson, while others have not shown it at all.

'There are not enough players putting their heart into the jersey but Ferguson cannot be accused of that. He has displayed the proper spirit of a captain.'

Macmillan admits he is also baffled by the decision to hand the armband to Rae, who recently revealed he is considering quitting Rangers this month in search of first-team football.

The fans' chief added: 'Again, I'm astonished. He is a guy who has made himself available if any club wants to make a bid for him and he is someone who has barely played.

'If he is considered good enough to be club captain, why has he not featured in the team more regularly? It's a very strange decision.'