Fans Fight Against Mike Ashley Dual Ownership Of Rangers And Newcastle
With the Scottish club’s current financial plight, fans are extremely worried that Mike Ashley could be allowed to control both Rangers and Newcastle via a back door route.
A struggling share issue to help deal with Rangers financial problems, could be underwritten by Ashley.
However, it is believed that to allow this, the Scottish FA have been approached to allow Mike Ashley via a special dispensation, to potentially have a significantly increaed stake in Rangers, as well as owning Newcastle United. Something that the rules do not allow in usual circumstances.
For Rangers fans specifically, they are worried that the payback could see Ibrox renamed with Sports Direct in the name, much as Oldham have due to their involvement with Mike Ashley.
The more wider reaching ramifications could see potential issues of European involvement for the two clubs.
Rangers fans have come out strongly to fight any increaed involvement by Mike Ashley and released the following statement.
UoF (Rangers Union Of Fans) Statement on Mike Ashley
“It has come to our attention that the Rangers board are considering a move which could see Mike Ashley underwrite the £4m share issue they previously announced. This has been necessary due to understandably poor take up from existing investors. We believe the SFA have been approached to find out what would be required to give clearance for this, due to Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United.
We would question the wisdom of approaching someone who, despite his obvious wealth, cannot significantly invest in the club without removing himself from his ownership position at Newcastle. Why are the board persisting with these short-term, desperate measures? The club needs urgent, substantial investment – not a short term fix which will be lucky to see us past Christmas. Even if they are successful in raising the £4m, almost half the money will immediately have to be used to repay overdue loans.
The board indicated to us that they could raise this money “at the push of a button.” Sandy Easdale also indicated that investors were lined up. Clearly neither of these statements have turned out to be true. Also, the vast bulk of this money could have been raised by greatly increased season ticket sales if the board had been prepared to properly safeguard the club’s assets.
If the SFA give special dispensation to Mr Ashley to up his stake in Rangers will it be irreversible and without any possible future sanction? Will the board get an unequivocal assurance that the SFA will not use this issue as a stick to beat the club with further down the line? The SFA have a track record of attempting to impose draconian sanctions on Rangers using tenuous methods. It would be extremely unwise of this board to unnecessarily put the club into a situation that allowed the SFA to act in this manner again.
We are also concerned that, under UEFA regulations on dual ownership of clubs, Mr Ashley cannot have a “decisive influence over decision making” at Rangers without it leading to the possibility of us not being able to compete in European competition. He could find himself holding around 20% of the shares in our club, having control of all club merchandise and being the largest single shareholder if he underwrites this share issue. Will the board clear this unequivocally, and in advance, with UEFA to ensure that Rangers will not miss out on European football in the future because of Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle?
It would be negligent of the board not to gain the above assurances from the relevant football authorities. We would ask them to publicly confirm that they will have full written clearance for Mr Ashley from both UEFA and the SFA before moving ahead with any plans for him to underwrite this share issue. We would also ask them to confirm that any such clearance is free from any caveat which could negatively affect Rangers in the future.
Finally, Mr Ashley’s initial purchase of shares in Rangers appears to have been linked to his Sports Direct merchandise deal. The only man inside Rangers who liked that deal at the time it was put in place was Charles Green. We hope that any possible assistance given to the board by Mr Ashley at this time will not see him clinch another favourable deal, perhaps to rename Ibrox at a knock down price. Can the board confirm that renaming of Ibrox will not be part of any underwriting deal with Mr Ashley and that we will not be seeing garish Sports Direct signage defacing our iconic Main Stand?”
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