BARRY FERGUSON has twice experienced the wrench of leaving Rangers.
So the former Light Blues captain has sympathy with those who have had to make the toughest decisions of their careers and head for the Ibrox exit door this summer.
The news last week that several of his key men, including skipper Steven Davis and Scotland stars Allan McGregor, Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith had refused to transfer their contracts to newco Rangers was the latest hammer blow inflicted on Gers boss Ally McCoist as his dream job has turned sour.
It has left him with only a skeleton squad to prepare during his second pre-season since taking the Ibrox hotseat and seen supporters turn on those they feel have left the club in limbo to chase personal gain.
Ferguson headed south in the summer 2003 for the English Premiership with Blackburn before making his second exit in 2009 after helping Rangers to a league and cup double.
The circumstances surrounding the departures of millions of pounds worth of talent this summer are hugely different, of course, but Ferguson has an idea of the concoction of emotions that would have swirled around the minds of the now ex-Ibrox stars.
"I can only imagine what kind of position the players have been in," Ferguson said
"With Rangers not likely to be in the Premier League now, the guys want to try and play at the highest level.
"That is not going to happen in the next few years if they stay with Rangers unfortunately.
"You can understand the players wanting to move on but people have to understand what a hard decision it is.
"A lot of them have grown up Rangers fans and it would have been a very difficult decision for them to make.
"It is a position I would not have liked to have been in and a decision I wouldn't have liked to have had to make."
The loss of the likes of McGregor, Davis and Naismith will, of course, be a huge blow to any on-field aspirations that McCoist has for the new season but it is the financial hit that could prove most costly.
Even with the contract clauses that allowed Rangers' biggest stars to leave the club for a fraction of their true market value in place, the Gers have still missed out on several million pounds in lost transfer fees as players have refused to agree to a switch to the newco set up by chief executive Charles Green.
The Englishman has vowed to take legal action against the former Ibrox stars but Ferguson reckons the time has passed for Green to do the talking, with Rangers' fortunes unravelling further in recent weeks since he gained control.
He said: "I can understand the fans being upset because losing the likes of Davo, Naisy and Greegs is a huge blow to the club, they are quality players.
"I think a lot of it will have been down to the uncertainty. There has been nothing clear as to what is happening.
"They have been left in limbo without any answers. Nobody knows the situation Rangers are in at the moment.
"You have got to look at it from the players' point of view. You have got to be in their shoes to understand what is going on.
"Nobody knows what has been going on behind the scenes. People will make assumptions about what is happening but it is down to the individual.
"Knowing a few of the lads and knowing that they grew up Rangers fans, I can sympathise with them because I know how hard a decision it would have been for those guys to leave Rangers."
McCoist returned to pre-season training yesterday morning to find a squad of just 14 players ready and willing to wear the famous blue jersey next season.
Neil Alexander, Lee Wallace, Kirk Broadfoot and Lee McCulloch are now likely to form the spine of McCoist's side next season but dark clouds continue to hang over Ibrox.
The Gers remain shrouded in uncertainty ahead of the new campaign, with the trials and tribulations sure to have taken their toll.
Ferguson said: "You won't be able to see the full picture for a while yet unfortunately. There are so many issues that need to be sorted out.
"They still have to find out what league they will be in just for starters. They might not be able to bring players in this summer.
"That might prove a good thing for Rangers in the long run because they will need to bring in younger boys and allow them to play.
"But to lose McGregor, Whittaker, Davis and Naismith is a huge blow because they are four massive players for the club. Davo, Naisy and Greegsy were brought up Rangers fans. I can imagine how hard it must have been for them to leave.
"Big Lee, Kirk, Neil and Lee Wallace have decided to stay and that is their decision and what they must feel is best. They will have thought long and hard about it."