Iain Vigurs has slammed Ross County for the manner in which they told 10 first-team players they were being released.
Just 24 hours after new manager Malky Mackay was confirmed in his post, chief executive Steven Ferguson was left to deliver the news a swathe of mainly experienced players, who helped keep the club in the Premiership, were being freed.
The skipper, along with record appearance and goalscorer Michael Gardyne, are the biggest names being let go, with Callum Morris, Ross Draper, Billy Mckay, Carl Tremarco and Jason Naismith also not offered new contracts.
Jermaine Hylton, Mohamed Maouche and Tony Andreu are the other three players leaving.
There was a better outcome for Keith Watson, Blair Spittal and Ross Munro, who have contract extensions on the table.
Lack of ‘respect’ with club legend Gardyne released over Zoom
Vigurs and Gardyne got the goals in the last-day 2-1 win at Motherwell earlier this month, which kept the team in the top-flight.
It was under the guidance of John Hughes that the team rattled off three victories to secure 10th spot and their third successive term in the Premiership.
Vigurs, who has played for the Dingwall club across two spells spanning more than eight years, explained how the released players learned their fate.
He said: “It took a few boys by surprise, that’s for sure.
“They took us in one by one and actually had the cheek to call some by Zoom. Like Michael Gardyne, the most decorated Ross County player there has ever been.
“He was in Dundee but was coming back up tonight, so they could have spoken to him tomorrow. They said no and organised a Zoom call instead.
“Midge (Michael Gardyne) has done so much for this club, as have the other boys. I just thought the boys deserved a little bit more respect. You don’t get that in football these days.
“It’s not so much that they’ve made these decisions, it’s more about how they have done it.”
Vigurs added: “They have had us waiting for 10 days. The chairman said he needed 10 days after the season ended. He had all season to make a decision.
“At the end of the day, we’re not in a privileged position, like Roy (MacGregor), in terms of his finances. People have got families and we needed to know what was going on.
“Ten days in football is a long time. That’s disappointing.”
No call came from new manager
The 33-year-old, who played 238 times for County, believes the silence from Mackay when he was confirmed as the new manager spoke volumes about what was about to happen.
Vigurs said: “As captain at the time, the new manager has come in this week, yet I didn’t get a phone call from the new manager. Nothing. I felt the writing was on the wall already.
“I went in and it was the chief executive Steven Ferguson who told me the news. There was not even the common courtesy or decency for the chairman or manager to be there.
“That’s what we’re dealing with. The boys gave everything to make sure this club stayed in the Premiership.
“A family club? Is it a family club just when they decide it is? You are just a number and that was most evident today.”
Fans rally round to support skipper
Vigurs was clearly feeling the pain of the decision, but wanted to have his say for the fans who he has so much time for.
He added: “It is hard for me to say all this, because I have got so much affiliation with the club and respect for the club.
“I have loved every second of my time there. I have always had good things to say about this club and past managers.
“The County fans have been brilliant with me and many have already messaged me and wished me all the best. I really do appreciate it.
“I feel, not just for me, but for the other boys as well. I know that’s the nature of the beast in football. It could have been done in a better way.”
Vigurs is not a quitter, and he vows to find a club to show, as if it were needed, that he can still cut it in the top-flight.
He stressed: “I will get my name out there again. If I felt like I couldn’t contribute any more, then I would maybe think of trying something else, but I still feel I can give a lot on the pitch.
“I will get my agent to see what is out there. I have plenty still to give and I look forward to a new challenge.”
New boss Mackay will be on the hunt for experienced players to fill the void and Vigurs accepts there are big changes now well under way.
He explained: “They say they are going down a different route. We are 100 per cent fine with that. Every club goes through a transitional period and that’s what Ross County are doing now.
“We wish them all the best for the future. I thought they would have kept some of the experienced players, but they have chosen not to do that.”