Wed, Feb

Yesmith or Naismith?

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On the 24th June 2012 Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker issued a joint statement via their Simon Catto of HBJ Gateley

"It has been an extremely difficult decision to make but I believe it is the right decision.

As players we were put in a difficult position by the administrators whereby we were asked to take a 75% pay cut to contracts that we entered into in good faith.

As players we collectively saw this as the only way to get Rangers Football Club out of administration by way of a CVA [company voluntary arrangement] and thereby protect the staff jobs and the history of the club and give the creditors who had also entered into contracts with Rangers in good faith the best chance of being paid.

Both Steven and I and our agent fought hard with administrators during negotiations to insert clauses that offered protection to staff and players at the club.

I am extremely proud of the actions we took but I am disappointed and angry that Rangers Football Club no longer exists in its original form".

The last line is the one which will haunt Naismith and one he's recently retracted. However, cast your mind back that time. This was prior to Lord Nimmo Smith’s independent review which concluded the following year, some eight months after Naismith’s comments. Within that review, Nimmo Smith confirmed that under the SFA Rules continuity existed within the Private Articles of Association, and that Rangers we in fact the same club. Prior to Lord Nimmo Smith’s announcement a huge majority of our supporters were already coming out in numbers to back a club cast into the lower leagues; despite what the position would be on continuity.

We were not experts on the SFA's Articles of Association, and neither was Naismith. Therefore his comments reflected what many believed at that time. It's also worth considering how negotiations with Green took place: let’s be honest, if they were anything like the negotiations on other deals Green pursued for the Club, they were probably with personal interest at heart above all else. Ultimately Green also threatened to take legal action against both players. And although some of Naismith and Whittaker's words were said in haste, I for one assume the intention was to hurt Charles Green in retaliation. However, who they really hurt with their words were Rangers supporters. I am sure on reflection both wish they had chosen their words more carefully.

Turning back to the statements Naismith also offered:

"There is too much uncertainty over what division the new company are going to be playing in at this stage of my career. I'm an ambitious footballer."

This is evidence that Naismith did not want to play lower league football. He therefore put his personal career first in his decision. I don’t know Stevie other than he has a young family so how many of us would do the same in our lives? The only thing I would put before my club is my family, therefore I personally don’t harbour any animosity against a busband and father doing what he feels is right at a time of uncertainty. Not when there is chaos going on and another club is willing to offer quick stability. But I do understand why many feel betrayed by his words and his actions.

The other argument surrounding that is, why not demand a transfer - allowing the club take a fee - as the likes of Steven Davis did? I suppose the answer is obvious, why TUPE into a new contract and put off suitors who may not be interested in you if a fee is involved? The suggestion here is that Naismith put himself above the club he purported to love. Family commitments aside, this sticks in my and many Rangers fans' craws.

Then again would any money made from the sale of Naismith and Whittaker have been spent in the Club? The share issue money was burned through without a great deal of clarity on where all the cash went so it is therefore unlikely fans would see any transfer income spent on the park, or the stadium that was left to rot under Green’s tenure.

Back to more recent times, Norwich paid £8.5m for Naismith in January 2016. It is rumoured he earns in the region of £50,000 p/week but that Norwich wish to remove another high earner off their books so are happy to cut their losses on players like Dorrans and Lafferty previously.

Thus, my stance is simple: we lost value when Naismith walked, and we could get a measure of that back without paying a fee now. Similarly, if he’s willing to take the massive wage cut that is rumoured to return and to make amends, I will give the lad a chance to right a few wrongs. After all, we still need quality players and we are still operating under a level of financial restraint while the club rebuilds. Can we afford to knock back a known quantity with a player of Naismith’s ability?. Whether you consider him a Judas or not, there is no denying Naismith remains a quality footballer who has the winning mentality our team desperately needs.

In conclusion, any transfer is still very much speculation, but if it happened, I would put the club's success on the park ahead of any grudges or anger I have against the player. Much like when Kenny Miller returned after playing for Celtic, it would be up to Naismith to come in and put in the kind of performances to win fans over. And, as Miller has shown, a player with a point to prove brings in a workrate and attitude that lesser known players can rarely match...

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