Wednesday night saw Newcastle United relegated once again under Mike Ashley’s leadership and it produced cheers but also sympathy from Rangers fans across the border.
Unlike the Premier League (surprise surprise), the Football League has much more stringent rules on dual interests regarding ownership of shares and any other off the pitch club influence that anybody can have on more than one club.
Unless an individual has written consent of the Football League board, they can’t hold an interest in another club with Regulation 99 stating:
‘A person shall be deemed to be interested in a football club if he, whether directly or indirectly: holds or deals in (or has made any application to hold or deal in or underwrite any issue of) the securities or shares of that football club; or is a member of that football club; or is involved in any capacity whatsoever in the management or administration of that football club; or has any power whatsoever to influence the financial, commercial or business affairs or the management or administration of that football club; or has lent to, gifted money to, or purchased future receivables from or guaranteed the debts or obligations of that football club (or any other arrangement of substantially similar effect) otherwise than in the ordinary course of banking.’
With Mike Ashley owning an 8.92% stake at the Glasgow club, as well as complete ownership of Newcastle United, it appears clear Ashley will have to sell on his shares in Rangers unless he relinquishes control of Newcastle…apart from in the unlikely event of the Football League giving him that written consent.
Mike Ashley of course also has significant control of the Rangers merchandise operation through his Sports Direct empire.
Craig Houston of the Sons of Struth Rangers fans pressure group told the Evening Times:
“Mike Ashley has a shareholding in Rangers and obviously the merchandise deal that we are not happy with.
“Going by the Football League rules, it looks like he does have to sell his shares. I don’t see him selling Newcastle quickly. Or does he just argue with the Football League about why he shouldn’t sell?
“If he did go, it would be great for Rangers fans because we don’t want him to have anything to do with our club.
“I doubt very much he would sell to someone that the fans would embrace.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they want to Derek Llambias or one of his old cohorts.
“It is obviously fantastic that there is another issue that Mike Ashley has to deal with but I have got close connections with the Newcastle fans over the last couple of years.
“Like all things in sport, fans put more in than anyone else than any one individual and they suffer more when things go wrong.”