Charles Green and Rangers players were on a collision course last night over whether they should transfer to his new company or not.
Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker announced plans to object to the transfer of their contracts to newco Rangers under TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)] regulations.
But, just as soon as the pair had explained the reasons behind their decision at a media conference, Ibrox chief executive Green warned he would take legal action against players who attempt to walk away for free.
He said in a statement: “It is a great pity that certain players have chosen this time to attempt to tear up their contracts and walk away from the club.
“The club is facing massive challenges in terms of its league status and the last thing the fans want to see is a dispute between the club and players.
“However, it appears that is the route several players are choosing. I can assure those players and clubs who may be interested in signing them that Rangers will seek damages for breach of contract and for inducement to break contracts.”
Green’s Sevco consortium completed the purchase of the business and assets of Rangers for £5.5million when the club was consigned to liquidation after failure to secure a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).
He added: “When the players agreed to take wage cuts earlier this year they renegotiated their contracts to allow them to leave for reduced values.
“That was a sensible quid pro quo and meant that the club would still get some transfer value for them should they leave.
“What is happening now is that the players want to leave for nothing, thereby denying the club any transfer value at all.
“At the same time, players who are ready to breach their contracts want to secure handsome signing on fees for other clubs, while Rangers get nothing.”
Naismith said uncertainty over which division Rangers will play in next season was a key factor in his decision.
Hibernian last night joined Hearts and Dundee United in going public with plans to vote against the newco’s application for entry to the Scottish Premier League when the 12 top-flight clubs vote on the issue on July 4.
Naismith said: “The reason for the decision I’ve made is, at this moment in my career, the uncertainty of what division the new company will be playing in.
“There’s too much uncertainty there for me at this stage in my career to be waiting around to see where that is.
“I would hope to be playing at the highest level possible.
“I feel as though I would be getting held back if I was to move down divisions in Scotland to play.”
Whittaker said: “From a football point of view, it’s best for me to continue my career elsewhere.
“It doesn’t look like the club is going to be playing in the SPL and there is no European football.
“I’m 28, I want to play at the top level as much as I can and it doesn’t look like I would have that opportunity here.”
Naismith revealed that a lack of contact from Green and information about the investors behind the consortium also contributed to his decision.
The forward added: “Part of the reason is that I can’t transfer over to a new company when I’ve never met the person involved with it.
“I’ve never met any of the investors, I don’t know anything about them. There is just far too much uncertainty.”