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Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 18:27 UK

Law could have helped Ibrox pair

Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor
Ferguson and McGregor were back training with Rangers on Friday

The law may have intervened to smooth the return of Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor to the Rangers fold.

Rangers manager Walter Smith this week softened his stance after initially indicating that the pair would not play for the club again.

Indefinite suspension is not an option under standard Scottish Premier League player contracts.

And the pair returned to training with Rangers on Friday following a two-week ban for misbehaviour with Scotland.

Midfielder Ferguson and goalkeeper McGregor were dropped by national manager George Burley because of a drinking session that followed Scotland's World Cup qualifying defeat in Netherlands.

They were then suspended for two weeks by Rangers after making V-signs at cameras from the Scotland bench during the following match at home to Iceland.

Smith had privately briefed the media that he would not pick the players again for his side.

But standard contracts state that clubs can only discipline players through dismissal, warnings or fines of up to four weeks' wages.

Players have the right to appeal against these decisions to the SPL.

Meanwhile, regulations from world governing body Fifa state that, if players are not given the chance to play, they can invoke a "sporting clause" that allows them to terminate their contract and walk away with their registration.

Employment law could yet intervene at international level, Ferguson and McGregor having been told that they would not be chosen for their country again.

However, under case law, the players have the right to a fair hearing, the right to be told of the charge in advance and the right to representation.

And the procedures adopted by the Scottish FA appear to be open to question.

Under normal procedure, this type of hearing has been heard by the governing body's general purposes committee but was instead heard by the board of directors.

This could leave open the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Session or Judicial Review.

Days after the initial decision, SFA chief executive Gordon Smith had appeared to soften the governing body's line by indicating that it could not be said that they would never play for their country as circumstances could change.

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see also
Smith is cagey over returning duo
17 Apr 09 |  Rangers
Rangers welcome duo back to fold
16 Apr 09 |  Rangers
Rangers pair given comeback hope
16 Apr 09 |  Rangers
Scots fans may forgive Gers pair
12 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Burley distances himself from ban
12 Apr 09 |  Internationals
No way back for Scots duo - Smith
09 Apr 09 |  Internationals
I had to set an example - Burley
05 Apr 09 |  Internationals

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