Fallen Scottish giants Rangers suffered a fresh blow on Wednesday with the announcement by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) it has refused a request from the club to permit Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to increase his shareholding.
The SFA held the talks on Tuesday -- over Ashley wishing to raise his permitted stake from the limit of 10% he apparently agreed with the SFA originally to just under 30% -- despite the Newcastle chief and Rangers facing a total of five disciplinary charges over his recent moves to strengthen his influence at the club.
That hearing is due to take place on January 27.
The SFA said its board had "unanimously" rejected the application to raise the stake.
"The Scottish FA board convened on Tuesday, 23rd December to hear a submission from the board of Rangers Football Club," read a statement from the SFA released on Wednesday.
"This meeting was arranged in respect of a request set out in an application to consent to an increase in MASH Holdings Limited`s shareholding in Rangers International Football Club to a maximum of 29.9 per cent of the issued share capital.
"The board has now carefully considered the application and has decided, unanimously, that the application should not be granted.
"The board, under article 13 of the Scottish FA articles of association, is required to have due regard to the need to promote and safeguard the interests and public profile of association football, its players, spectators and others involved with the game."
The five charges that Ashley and Rangers face were brought on December 15.
They came after the billionaire businessman -- who recently loaned the club £3million ($4.7million) -- increased his shareholding in Rangers to almost nine percent in October, having previously secured naming rights to the club`s Ibrox stadium.
Explaining the charges the SFA said that both Rangers and Ashley were accused of breaking rules that prevent parties from exerting an influence over more than one club.
The 54-time league champions -- who have also seen former Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias appointed chief executive -- fortunes are barely rosier on the pitch.
Their bid to return to the Premiership -- they were demoted to the third division in 2012 when they suffered a liquidation crisis -- is in jeopardy as they trail Championship (second tier) leaders Hearts by 12 points.
Former pLaying legend Ally McCoist paid the price for their poor form when he resigned as manager earlier this month, after a three year spell in charge, and then decided not to serve out his 12 month notice period and went on gardening leave instead.
His assistant Kenny McDowall has been put in charge till the end of the season with his first game in charge coming this Saturday against another former Premiership heavyweight Hibs.