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Last Updated: Friday, 15 August, 2003, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Rangers could lose Ferguson
Barry Ferguson
Barry Ferguson played through the pain barrier last season
Rangers captain Barry Ferguson could leave the club, manager Alex McLeish has acknowledged.

McLeish insisted that Ferguson had not handed in a transfer request as such, but admitted he could understand if a player decided he wanted a new challenge.

BBC Sport revealed on Thursday that Rangers honorary chairman David Murray had told Blackburn Rovers manager Graeme Souness, who was willing to pay more than 10m for the player, that he was "not for sale at any price".

But if Rangers fail to make the group stages of the Champions League, Ferguson could be sold.

"It would be stupid to say Barry is going to leave and, until something is decided one way or another, it is all hypothetical," said McLeish.

"But I can't guarantee anything. It would be stupid of me to say he definitely won't go or definitely will go."

That stance is at odds, however, with a statement issued by Rangers chairman John McClelland on Friday morning.

It stated that Ferguson would not be sold and that there had been no bid for him from Blackburn or anyone else.

"We've made an enquiry for Barry in the last seven days but we were told he's not for sale," Souness told BBC Scotland.

"He's someone I've been aware of for a few years, he's still only 25, and I think he's a very, very good player.

"But Rangers told us that he's not available and that's the end of it.

"I've got a good relationship with the chairman of that football club and I respect what he says."

Blackburn are cash rich, having sold Damien Duff to Chelsea for 17m and David Dunn to Birmingham City for 5.5m during the summer.

But not even Souness's personal friendship with Murray from his days as Rangers manager could persuade the Scottish champions to part with their major asset.

Ferguson was inspirational last season, despite a debilitating hip injury, as Rangers claimed a domestic Treble.

The 25-year-old took regular injections to play through the pain barrier before undergoing surgery during the close season.

Rangers' massive debts forced the summer sale of defender Lorenzo Amoruso to Blackburn and winger Neil McCann to Southampton.

A proposed 5m deal to take midfielder Mikel Arteta to Atletico Madrid could also yet be resurrected.

McLeish has stated that reaching the financially lucrative Champions League group stages is a necessity if further cutbacks are to be avoided.

However, Rangers could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to FC Copenhagen in Wednesday's third qualifying round tie.





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