Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Stephen Craigan: Kyle Lafferty has to live with Rangers exit

Kyle Lafferty wants to sign a new contract with Rangers

On a weekend that saw many Rangers legends paraded at Ibrox prior to their 2-0 win over Stirling Albion, as part of the club's 140th anniversary celebrations, Kyle Lafferty spoke in the Scottish press about his disappointment that he feels he’ll never be welcome back at the club.



John Greig, voted “The greatest ever Ranger” in 1999, was one of the legends who took to the pitch, with manager Ally McCoist claiming afterwards his presence inspired the team’s victory.

Greig, a former player, manager and director had cut all ties with the club after a fall-out with the infamous Craig Whyte, but his appearance at Saturday's game showed everyone that Rangers were more united than ever and ready for the challenges ahead.

After a summer of financial turmoil and uncertainty Rangers are on the road to recovery and Lafferty’s comments will have been met with a mixed reaction among supporters.

You may recall Lafferty and several others took players' union advice to walk away from their contracts, in some cases, it is said, potentially costing the club millions in transfer fees.

It's understood Ibrox chief executive Charles Green is pursuing a number of players, including Lafferty, with a threat of possible court action.

There are fans who wear blue tinted glasses and can never forgive anyone who leaves their club no matter the situation.

Supporters must understand though that football doesn’t stand still for any player and opportunities arise all the time. Players come and go at all clubs. That's the way it is.

Rangers supporters, of course, have shown they’ve long memories by voting unanimously to boycott the team's Scottish Cup tie against Dundee United in February, so I can’t imagine they’ll forget Kyle’s exit.

The Tannadice decision was based on the opinion that United chairman Stephen Thompson was damning of the Glasgow side's plight to re-enter the SPL over the summer.

Ultimately supporters pay money at the gate so they can decide whatever they want on the Cup game and how they see players like Kyle Lafferty, who moved to Swiss outfit Sion.

I'd say Kyle was well within his rights to do what he has done but he has to live with the consequences of his decision.

From what I’ve seen in recent Northern Ireland games the move has benefited his all-round game and fitness, so from that point of view it has been a success, but the way he went about it has left a bitter taste with Rangers fans.

They feel the club invested a lot of money in him as a young player and the move enhanced his career dramatically, believing a bit of loyalty would have helped the club get cash in from a transfer fee, even if minimal.

Kyle stated his reasons for leaving were to protect his family from the abuse and goldfish bowl that can be Glasgow when you are an Old Firm player.

Let's face it, when what you do on the pitch affects your family off it, it’s time to consider your position and move on.

At times with Rangers Kyle was naive and showed a bit of immaturity with his actions on the pitch, but surely, that doesn’t mean people have a right to take the law into their own hands, as was the case when a brick came flying through his car window.

For now, Kyle must accept he won’t be welcomed back to Ibrox by some supporters. That chapter of his footballing career is over so he has to focus on his future and not the past.

In life when you make a choice you have to trust it and you have to be big enough to deal with what follows.