In a week that has seen 5 Newcastle United players go on loan to Rangers, commentators have started to express concern, without directly saying why.

Caretaker manager at Rangers, Kenny MacDowell, has come out and been interpreted as being told that he has to play the loan players if fit, although this is disputed by Derek Llambias, if he can be believed after the Keegan tribunal. If true, why is this a problem?

I have been following the Rangers saga since Ashley started to get involved. In summary, he has a stake of 8.92%. Having also made loans to the club, the SFA have stepped in to oppose his increasing that stake. Since being investigated by the SFA, the sports retail company in which Ashley is a major shareholder, has stepped in, the loan to Ashley personally being repaid but substituted by other debt to the retail company.

The rules that the SFA have invoked are that of dual ownership of football clubs and whether what is happening at Rangers is in the interests of Association Football. There may be speculation about another rule being breached, that of whether it can be stipulated that loan players have to be played. The simple answer to that is who is doing the stipulating, the loaning club or the board of the hosting club.

(To feature like Rex N, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])

Simultaneously, at Newcastle, the top item on the agenda for the last month has been the appointment of a manager, or as Lee Charnley pointed out recently, Head Coach. It is claimed that the latter role dominates in Europe. Charnley identified that it is the board’s remit to recruit players. It remains to be seen how closely those above the coach are to be involved in team selection, with suspicions over weakened selection for club matches being denied.

Scottish football has been bitten before, hence the SFA rules having been reviewed in recent years. There has been an increase in foreign ownership generally. In the Scottish case, most relevant is perhaps Heart of Midlothian and their former owner, Vladimir Romanov.

The current loan moves are reminiscent of Romanov, who also owned Lithuanian club FBK Kaunas and Belarusian club FC PartizanMinsk. One of the features of that association was a number of players being loaned to Hearts. Despite a reputation for meddling in team affairs, the similarity may stop there.

Ashley does not yet have formal control over Rangers despite he and the company in which he is a major shareholder, having a stranglehold over the club’s liquidity. Where Romanov allowed club debt to build, Ashley’s stewardship has seen cost containment and a return to profitability. Where Romanov had ambitions for Europe through cups or league, Ashley’s regime ostensibly has none above Premier League survival. Ashley also stuck with Pardew for 4 years, both otherwise experienced managerial turbulence.

Amid talk of whether Ashley could be bailing out of either Newcastle or Rangers, there is another model which Ashley could be following. Like Romanov did, Giampaolo Pozzo owns clubs in 3 countries. His flagship was initially Udinese, the empire expanding to incorporate Granada in Spain and now Watford. Conceivably, Pozzo could own 3 top flight clubs come August.

Clearly, the SFA have much to ponder as the hearing date on March 3rd may uncover. What exactly are Ashley’s intentions, now that he has ‘saved’ Rangers from financial meltdown?

As mentioned above and in previous articles, Ashley may not necessarily plan on one club or the other. He has a variety of options. There could indeed be some sort of transition of players between clubs to ensure maximum success, as indeed Pozzo has experienced in getting potentially all of his stable into their respective top flights.

With a cosmopolitan squad already, Rangers add Irish and Slovenian internationals, a Burundian and Swiss with age group caps and a promising defender. That sort of experience should be enough to ensure a play-off position in the Scottish 2nd tier. The impression is given, should the model persist, that Rangers could become a feeder club for giving experience to players who have potential to play in the Premier League.

newcastle unitedIs this really the case?

Taking a different perspective, and meaning no offence, there are two big teams in Scotland when functioning normally. History tells us that Rangers and Celtic dominate major honours. Scottish football wages are dwarfed by the Premier League. A relatively small increase in human resource can secure Champions League riches.

On the other hand, South of the border, revenues are buoyant, profits in the order of £50m per year are secured by Premier League survival. To challenge for the Champions League means challenging oil billionaires. The wage bill for the top 5 clubs is still higher than Newcastle United’s total turnover.

At the other end of the table, 2 out of 3 promoted clubs nearly always struggle to survive. Some like Southampton, Swansea and Stoke invest to push on, others like Hull and West Brom cling on by their finger tips. There is a perverse incentive not to invest.

If survival can be almost assured by Christmas, where now fringe players are being loaned in the quest for promotion, why should it not be the top players to help progress in the Champions League or just to secure Champions League access?

Newcastle United are already a stepping stone for players like Carroll, Cabaye, Ba, Remy. As a feeder club, surely a feeder club with access to Champions League football must be even more attractive to aspiring footballers.

From Ashley’s perspective, costs can be cut with one scouting system for two clubs. £10m, £25m or even more from UEFA progress, adds to Rangers’ profitability and perhaps even more importantly, Europe wide exposure to his leading brand.

Subject to overcoming a few minor hurdles, the biggest of which is arguably an impoverished SFA, Ashley could be on his way to having another feeder club, giving exposure to the riche of the Premier League, the riches of Europe and the riches of brand promotion. The question becomes, who is a feeder club to whom?

Rex also runs his own website ( which you can visit HERE

  • No Brainer

    Flumxmoxed, The headline was
    Newcastle United and Rangers – Who is feeding who

    The summary was

    The question becomes, who is a feeder club to whom? 

    EH whats the point FFS

  • PaulNewsome

    If your old English teacher saw this, he or she would scream “Who is feeding WHOM!” :-)

  • SimonM68

    Is it in fact Mrs Ashlyy who is the ‘feeder’?  Looking at Mike’s flubber-guts and the fact her weekly housekeeping would pay for a lot of cream cakes could the our suffering in fact be rooted in sexual depravity?

  • wor monga

    Eh…”Swansea, Southampton and Stoke invest to push on”…Swansea
    sold their best striker, as soon as the big money was put up and he couldn’t
    get out quick enough…no different from us with Cabaye…Southampton couldn’t hold
    on to the good young players they have produced, and they’ve had a very good
    first half to the season, but let’s see if they can keep it up, and see where
    they finish…and as for Stoke investing to push on…mmmm you obviously got caught
    out with the Lacazette signing rumours, Rex.

    “Stepping stones for Carroll, Cabaye, Ba, and Remy”…stepping
    stones to what exactly?…finding out the hard way that they are not good
    enough to win permanent spots with the clubs they ended up at…or just stepping
    stones to a lot more money?

    “£10m or £25m or more from UEFA progress”…that’s highly
    optimistic, and begs the question when has a club from Scotland ever picked up anywhere
    near £10million from the CL…Celtic have made it to the Round of 16 only twice
    in the last 10years, and nowadays days that is where a club need to be to be
    looking at something like a £10million payout, and this ‘cheaply’ rebuilt
    Rangers side (you forsee) would always be competing with them for the one CL spot.

    may be a gambler, but I think even he would see this as bad odds for so little
    a return…when he can expect 5 times that just for keeping us in the PL.

  • PaulNewsome

    “A relatively small increase in human resource can secure Champions League riches.
    “On the other hand, South of the border, revenues are buoyant, profits in the order of £50m per year are secured by Premier League survival.”
    That simply isn’t true on both counts.
    Firstly, only one Scottish team will go into the Champions League qualifiers most times nowadays, and that isn’t even the Champions League proper. The only Scottish side to get into the qualifiers, Celtic, were knocked out by Maribor before the competition started and that’s where the money is, the group stage onwards. Celtic made around £10 million profit in their last results, because they made the last sixteen of the Champions League the season before. Now they are out before it’s started, they will probably be in the red with the next results.
    Rangers have fallen so far behind now that to compete equally with Celtic, they will need to spend around £50 million on players, and risk losing lots of money if they can;t beat Celtic and the rest to that number one position. Even then, as I’ve already mentioned, they can still get knocked out at the qualifying stages and that’s still a catastrophe, as it was for Newcastle when we were knocked out in the qualifiers against Partizan Belgrade. The club lost many millions and never really recovered. Ashley wouldn’t be into that.
    Secondly, although the Premier League is worth £10s of millions in revenue, the average Premier League club doesn’t make

  • PaulNewsome

    wor monga

    has a club from Scotland ever picked up anywhere
    near £10million from the CL”
    Celtic made over £20 million from getting to the last 16 of the Chamipons League last time, but as I mentioned elsewhere, they didn’t make it to the Champions League this time and they will lose money in a Scottish League which can;t sustain a team like Celtic without Champions League competition.

  • LeazesEnder

    PaulNewsome North and South…. We’re all feeding fatty!

  • wor monga

    PaulNewsome wor monga   

    fair comment based on that one seasons earnings…

    but how many times have either Celtic/
    Rangers made it to the last 16 over the last 10yrs, and use that to give you a
    better perspective of what their of earnings might be into the future…

    how does
    it compare with that guaranteed PL amount each year?……… doesn’t.

  • Sickandtiredstill
  • wor monga


    …but they don’t need to progress through 4 gruelling rounds
    (2nd, 3rd,Play-Off, and Group Stage) to make the Round of
    16 just to get £2Om….they get a lot more just for staying up…just ask the 3
    relegated clubs last season who picked up £64m, £63m and £62m before they went

  • wor monga


    Are you… ‘still sick and tired’… about things up there?….get a life…or
    even better support the lads this Sunday, that’ll give you some cheer!!!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga Not giving those crooks anything any longer. Corporate governance mate, it applies here as well you know.

  • wor monga

    Sickandtiredstill wor monga 

    …we used to say in the mob …‘Nils Desperundum Carborundum’…(Don’t let the Barstewards
    grind you down)…KTF…HWL…

  • A lex

    Quite ‘rich’ that the Rangers board (including a certain Llambias) are putting it in writing that King isn’t good because he was found to be lying in court. Amazing hypocrisy.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    A lex indeed. The KK tribunal explains enough about Ashley and his running of things. I hope King brings that up!

  • RexN

    Thanks for all the comments. The who v whom is one of those great debates about the evolving English language. After a modernist headline we came to a purist conclusion.

    On the financial gain, this has been covered in other articles published on this site. It would have been like War and Peace to review them here but picking up on the £10m figure that was quoted for Celtic, if in doubt, look at their historic accounts. As for the £50m and “not rue”, let’s see what happens with the next NUFC accounts and the forthcoming new TV deal. The figure of £50m becomes conservative. Also, factor in the possibility of loans from a Premier League squad to a Scottish squad.

    On the Swansea spend, don’t just look at this season, look at the investment since promotion, not just the last window. Their net investment over the same period is significantly more than ours.

    Back to the grammar police, fair play, I am sure you give the club the same sort of reaction to the those who are actually paid to produce material, not like the amateur enthusiasts here. It is nice to see that some people care about the evolution of colloquial English language.

  • No Brainer
    Yet again you ignore the fscts t hat swansea are donald sold the best player for upto £25m yet only 9m is available for players
    we alsi fibd thatthe player they picked a for a ‘free’ has a 7.75 m signing fee which gets paid either when he leaves or ends his contract.
    to see hiw fonald they are check the needto sell part of the club to raise gunds

  • RexN

    No Brainer Checked it, yes. Prior to the Bony sale, they were on a net investment of £17m for this season, with a net investment of £20m the season before. With the increases in TV revenue it remains to see what they will invest. They have also gone for adventurous managers.

  • No Brainer

    How on earth are you able to come to that coclusion when they are operstibg the practices they are hocking the future. Can you not read all factors their number 1 striker
    Gomis has a near eight million bond with them and they have no other money from the sale of bony to spend on players he also has a four year deal. This club is on the slide big style.
    as for adventurous managrrs monk is a viach whise bern around for ever just like erm eh who

  • DownUnderMag

    There is simply far too much profit to be made by hanging on to NUFC, profit that realistically can be achieved with only minor investment, and usually just a loan of sorts, players brought in, safety secured, players sold to recoup the initial outlay. It is a system that is sound financial play from Ashley, but utter pain and misery…no, actually more like a state of limbo, for the fans.  

    Rangers represents the easiest way for Ashley to get into Champions League contention and not only the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, but wider exposure for his brand.   With both clubs on board, there is a sense that players could easily be moved back and forth, promising talent sent to Rangers, the top ones brought back to the EPL while the rest stay and possibly even move on permanent deals to what is seen as a somewhat easier level of football.

    The dual ownership is seen as a conflict of interests, but I am sure Ashley will be looking to find ways around the rulings.   One thing is for certain, if we the fans are expecting an either-or solution, I think we may be disappointed.  There is simply too much for Ashley to gain by keeping both.

  • Willvenus1

    Judging by his physique, all Mike cares about is who’s feeding him!!