THE Rangers board will go head to head with Mike Ashley at a general meeting sparked by the Newcastle United owner but have proposed a rival resolution to the one instigated by the English billionaire.
Rangers have announced a general meeting will be held at Ibrox – the third in six months – on 12 June after Ashley called on the club to allow shareholders to decide whether they should repay Sports Direct’s £5 million loan.
Ashley has also demanded answers on the club’s delisting from the AIM Stock Exchange, which came after new chairman Dave King and his allies swept to power in March at the expense of the Sports Direct founder’s camp.
The development came because King could not secure a new nominated advisor within a 30-day period after WH Ireland quit.
The Ibrox board told shareholders that any resolution to pay back Ashley’s loan would not be legally binding, according to their legal advice from a “senior QC”.
They also hit back at Ashley by proposing a resolution which would see them given backing to renegotiate their contracts with Sports Direct.
Rangers promised to reveal details of the income received by the Ashley-controlled Rangers Retail arm and the terms of the contract with the club.
However, they pointed out that Sports Direct has confidentiality deals in place which could impact on that.
The resolution reads: “That the shareholders support the directors of the company in their desire to ensure that the contractual arrangements between the club and various members of the Sports Direct group of companies are renegotiated on a basis that is fair and reasonable for both parties and will deliver best value to both the club and Sports Direct.
“The shareholders agree that these negotiations need to address the whole relationship between the club and Sports Direct in order to achieve that goal.”
Rangers have also threatened to put forward a new club rule which would effectively prevent Ashley voting, by ensuring that no one who falls foul of Scottish Football Association rules on dual influence would have voting rights. Ashley and Rangers were recently the subject of SFA disciplinary action because of breaches of such a rule.
Sports Direct’s £5m loan, which replaced a personal loan by Ashley in January, gives the retail firm security over Rangers brands, training ground, stadium car park and adjacent building, Edmiston House, plus an additional quarter share of Rangers Retail.
Meanwhile, Rangers assistant manager Kenny Black believes his players have answered the critics who questioned their big-game mentality. Rangers are unbeaten in four play-off games against Queen of the South and Hibernian and earlier beat Hibs and Hearts since Stuart McCall and Black came in.
Black told the club’s website: “In these so-called big games that we’ve had since Stuart and I came in we have been great – the two rounds of the play-offs, the games against Hearts and the game against Hibs at Easter Road which we won 2-0. We have stepped up to the plate and silenced a few critics.”