Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rangers Set to Refuse to Immediately Return PS5m to Ashley

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rangers Set to Refuse to Immediately Return PS5m to Ashley

Article excerpt

AMAJORITY of Rangers shareholders have voted against Mike Ashley's demand that the club immediately repay a PS5million loan paid out by his Sports Direct empire.

The Newcastle United owner, who also holds a 8.92 per cent stake in Gers, called a general meeting at Ibrox on Friday.

But shareholders backed chairman Dave King's board - who urged them to turn down Ashley's resolution - as 53.64 per cent of those taking part voted against the billionaire tycoon.

However, a second resolution, this time proposed by the club, which called for Sports Direct's controversial retail deal with the Scottish Championship outfit to be renegotiated on a "fair and reasonable" basis was backed by 62.5 per cent of shareholders.

Turnout for both votes was around 78 per cent.

The previous Ashley-backed board of directors borrowed the money back in January as they lurched towards another cash crisis.

But the sportswear magnate used the opportunity to take security over Murray Park and the club's iconic badges. He also grabbed a further 26 per cent share of the profits from Rangers Retail Limited, a company he already owned a 49 per cent stake in.

However, a boardroom coup launched by King back in March forced out Ashley's right-hand men Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, and set the South Africabased businessman on a collision course with the Londoner, ranked the 318th richest man in the world by Forbes magazine.

Ashley demanded the new Rangers regime return his money and also called for a detailed explanation for why the Light Blues were thrown off the AIM stock exchange just days after King's board took power.

But he also managed to have the board gagged from revealing details of the retail contract, which according to the latest club accounts made Gers no money at all, after winning court injunctions in both London and Edinburgh.

King claimed even if Ashley had succeeded in winning Friday's vote, his board would not have been forced to pay back the PS5million loan. …

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