Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Eyes on Ashley - as the Rangers Saga Keeps Rumbling on; While Newcastle United Are Searching for a New Head Coach, Owner Mike Ashley Is Caught in a Tangled Web at Ibrox. Mark Douglas Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Eyes on Ashley - as the Rangers Saga Keeps Rumbling on; While Newcastle United Are Searching for a New Head Coach, Owner Mike Ashley Is Caught in a Tangled Web at Ibrox. Mark Douglas Reports

Article excerpt

THIS might just be Mike Ashley's biggest week in football. As the Newcastle United owner concludes a winter break in the sunshine of Barbados, he has issues to solve both on his doorstep and in the maelstrom of Ibrox - where the Rangers situation becomes more tangled by the week.

For Ashley, a man who concluded his purchase of Newcastle in hours under a veil of secrecy, the very public nature of a complicated situation at Rangers has become troublesome.

It has become a very complex and treacherous situation north of the border, where Ashley's attempted power grab has run into difficulties. The SFA are investigating his dual interests in Rangers and Newcastle, fans' groups are protesting and others on the board are attempting to roll back his influence.

Yesterday, Rangers confirmed an PS18million takeover bid from American financier Robert Sarver. They also gave notice that Sandy Easdale had loaned the club PS500,000 essentially to keep it going.

They had to do all of this through the Stock Exchange because Rangers is a public limited company. Unlike Newcastle - where Ashley can do as he likes and tell no one - there is an accountability to shareholders which means he has consistently been forced to show his hand in public.

The question now is where next for Ashley at Rangers? Does he fight back against the forces trying to oust him from Ibrox, as he appeared to yesterday with the appointment of close associate Barry Leach as the club's finance director, or step back from the scrap and simply look to shore up his commercial contracts at Ibrox? If he does the former, it will get messy.

Although Newcastle continue to insist that it does not impact on events at St James' Park, that stance seems illogical. Although he has passed influence on to Lee Charnley and Graham Carr, no one can pretend United aren't run entirely at the whim of their owner. If Ashley sneezes, Newcastle catch a cold.

The decision that Newcastle face is equally profound in its own way. United are not in the middle of a crisis like Rangers are but once again, this decision will reveal Ashley's thinking about United's medium to long-term direction. …

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