Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were told their Scotland international careers were over, as the hangover from their controversial, late-night drinking session grew steadily worse. The pair were also suspended for two weeks without pay by their club Rangers after being sent home from training earlier in the day.
They were involved in a drinking session at Scotland's team hotel at the weekend and then enraged team bosses by apparently making V-signs while on the bench after being dropped for Wednesday's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ win over Iceland at Hampden.
"In light of the events of the past 48 hours and following further discussions between the national team manager and the chief executive, it has been decided that Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor will no longer be considered for international selection by Scotland," said a Scottish Football Association (SFA) spokesman.
"This action has been taken in the best interest of the squad, the fans and the country. We are determined to qualify for the World Cup and we must ensure that nothing is allowed to distract us from achieving this goal."
Midfielder Ferguson, who was Scotland captain and has been capped 45 times, told Rangers' official website that he was ashamed by the events of the last week. "I deeply regret what happened last weekend and the events during the last week and apologise wholeheartedly for the embarrassment caused to Scotland, Rangers, both sets of supporters and my friends and family," he said. "I have always considered playing for Rangers and Scotland an honour and a privilege and nothing will change that and I am bitterly disappointed by the announcement that I will not be selected for Scotland again."
Regrets all around
Goalkeeper McGregor, whose fourth and last cap came against the Dutch after replacing Sunderland's Craig Gordon, was also full of regrets. "We all make mistakes in life and I am very disappointed to have let Rangers, Scotland, my family and all the fans down," he said. "I am also desperately disappointed that I will not be selected again for Scotland at this stage in my career."
The SFA said they had been deluged by phone calls and emails from Scotland fans outraged over the behaviour of the two Rangers stars which came after a 3-0 defeat against the Netherlands in a South Africa 2010 qualifier in Amsterdam on Saturday. Following a further meeting between SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and manager George Burley, it was decided neither player would play for Scotland again.
Burley had insisted after Wednesday's game that both players would still be involved in future squads. But, following a summit between the manager and Smith, the SFA performed a dramatic u-turn.