Scottish FA to hasten Mike Ashley’s departure from Newcastle?
The BBC in Scotland are reporting that the Scottish Football Association has written both to Rangers and to Mike Ashley asking for clarification of recent events.
Ashley, of course, while still owning less than nine per cent of Rangers, has just loaned the club two million pounds. He also is reported to threatened (with legal action) a competing consortium reportedly making a better offer of a larger loan.
Ashley, by making this loan, now has Rangers by the short and curlies. Much the most important concession rung out of Rangers was the right to nominate two replacement directors, a chief executive and a financial controller, to replace the ones he had just sacked.
Dear old Derek Llabias returns to the scene as Ashley’s enforcer, apparently reconciled to the sportswear tycoon after a bit of a spat. He will be Rangers’ new chief executive.
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It has been pointed out many many times that Ashley is already in breach of the rules. Even the Chronicle is raising an eyebrow at Ashley’s movemenst. Of course he owns Newcastle United, but hiring and firing the most important directors at Rangers surely suggests he is exerting some influence there too.
Ashley is not the biggest shareholder at Rangers, but it’s thought that the biggest shareholder is an ally of his. In any case, the biggest shareholder is no longer in a position to stand up to Ashley. The only thing he could do if he found Ashley objectionable would be to grin and bear it. Ashley has the gun pointed at everyone else’s head – he can recall the loan and sink the club altogether. Indeed, sinking the club would make it very cheap indeed, and who would bet against Ashley buying the glowing embers of Rangers and starting it all off again in the Caledonian Soap League, Division 4?
The point is that Article 13 of the Articles of Association of the Scottish Football Association say that a shareholder in one club cannot own shares in any other club controlled by UEFA, or exercise influence at that other club, except with special dispensation. Ashley, plainly, obviously, unarguably, egregiously, is exerting influence at Rangers, it is clear that Ashley, characteristically, is mooning at the SFA.
The question is whether the SFA is going to do anything about it. A lot of people think not. A lot of people point out that Rangers’ continued existence is more important than the rules of the SFA being observed.
Which is why it is heartening that the SFA is investigating what is going on. It could be argued that this is happening rather late in the day. It could be argued that Rangers under Llambias are hardly going to say anything that drops Ashley in the clarts. It could be argued that Ashley is going to say the same as Llambias when it comes to Ashley’s exertion of influence.
But there are also a lot of people watching what the SFA is doing, and wishing them well. It will do the SFA no good in the long run if it bends over for Ashley.
And in the meantime wouldn’t it be great to hear from the Freemen of the City of Newcastle Upon Tyne, the lessor at St James’ Park, and the enforcers of the lease enabling Newcastle United to play at home?
A lessee like Ashley is bringing football into disrepute. It is time for the Freemen to enforce the lease and make sure that Ashley is obeying the rules of the governing body of the sport in Scotland.
This at any rate could be the starting point for proceedings designed to uncover the extent of Ashley’s influence at Rangers, and an application for an injunction obliging the tyrant to sell up at Newcastle.
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