Newcastle owner Mike Ashley ups Rangers` influence

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was left with a greater say in the running of Rangers after the chief executive of the cash-strapped fallen Scottish giants resigned on Monday.

AFP| Updated: Oct 27, 2014, 19:51 PM IST
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley ups Rangers` influence

London: Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was left with a greater say in the running of Rangers after the chief executive of the cash-strapped fallen Scottish giants resigned on Monday.

Graham Wallace stepped down after failing to prevent Ashley expanding his influence at the Glasgow institution.

His exit was confirmed in a Rangers statement to the London Stock Exchange while a separate statement confirmed the club had accepted a £2 million ($3 million, 2.5 million euros) interest-free loan from Ashley, who made his fortune building up Britain`s Sports Direct chain of stores.

Part of the deal will swee Ashley allowed to replace Wallace and former finance director Philip Nash, who resigned on Friday, with his own directors.

Wallace came on board last November but was criticised by supporters` groups for failing to reveal the real state of the club`s parlous finances. 

He also found himself in disagreement with football board chairman Sandy Easdale -- who controls a 26 percent stake in the club -- in backing a rescue package being led by former Rangers director Dave King.

Easdale, however, remained keen on an alliance with Ashley and appears to have won out.

Wallace`s exit led to rumours that manager Ally McCoist could be following him out of Ibrox but Easdale said the former Scotland striker, Rangers` record goalscorer, was staying put.

"I have not spoken to Ally," Easdale told Scottish Television after arriving at Ibrox on Monday. "He is the manager and he continues to be the manager. 

"We have not got any ideas of changing the manager. That is not on the agenda."

Ashley has an 8.92 percent stake in Rangers. He is prohibited from having more than a 10 percent share of Rangers while owning English Premier League club Newcastle after he signed an agreement with the Scottish Football Association three years ago.

However, he does run Rangers` retail division and holds naming rights to Ibrox.

There has been speculation that Ashley, a hugely unpopular figure with many Magpies` fans, might sell north-east club Newcastle and take full control of Rangers instead.

But Sunday saw Newcastle win 2-1 away to Tottenham Hotspur as they moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with their first back-to-back league wins, following victory over Leicester, in nearly eight months. 

Easdale, though, insisted a takeover was not part of Ashley`s plans.

"As far as I`m concerned (Ashley) wants to help the club. He has not intimated (that he wants total control) to me," he said.

Rangers, the 54-times champions of Scotland, were kicked into the country`s fourth and bottom tier of professional football in 2012 after entering administration.

But they have since been working their way back towards the summit and last season were crowned champions of third-tier League One.

Rangers are now currently second in the second-tier Championship and will be back in the top-flight Premiership, where they can resume their lucrative rivalry with arch Glasgow foes Celtic, if they win promotion this season.