Rangers fans want clarity on £1m Mike Ashley loan

Mike Ashley's latest loan included giving up Ibrox naming rights. Picture: Getty
Mike Ashley's latest loan included giving up Ibrox naming rights. Picture: Getty
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A RANGERS supporters’ group has demanded to know what Mike Ashley is getting in return for agreeing to give up the naming rights to Ibrox.

It was announced on Wednesday that Ashley, the Newcastle United owner who owns an 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers, had lent the Glasgow club a further £1 million.

In an announcement to the Stock Exchange, Rangers also revealed they had entered into a marketing agreement with Ashley’s Sports Direct firm and that he would be give up stadium naming rights.

It is less than a month since Ashley strengthened his grip on Rangers with a £2m loan. The Union of Fans has criticised the short-term loan strategy and also accused the club’s directors of “giving away the family silver to keep the lights on”.

Ashley’s new loan is needed for wages due on 26 November. Rangers blamed falling attendances and warned of “cost-cutting” amid fears non-football jobs would be lost at the club.

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In a statement released yesterday, the Union of Fans said: “The attempt to justify the decision to opt solely for short-term loans, instead of the combination of short-term finance complemented by long-term sustainable funding, is not only unjustifiable on a financial level but also completely disregards the need to rebuild trust in those who retain custody of our club.

“The board neglected their duties to the club, the fans, the shareholders and the business. They continue to fail to understand that tens of thousands of their ‘customers’ simply do not trust them.

“Whilst welcoming that Mike Ashley has apparently released the naming rights over Ibrox, there is no clarity on what has been given to Mr Ashley in return.

“What exactly has Mr Ashley been given... and how will this impact future income streams? Are [directors] Mr [David] Somers, Mr [Norman] Crighton and Mr [James] Easdale giving away the family silver to keep the lights on?

“In an incredible admission they even tell us that this latest short-term, one-eyed fix will not be enough to fund the club beyond December.”

The statement concluded by lambasting the board for blaming falling attendances.

“[The] attempt to once again blame fans for the financial position is both insulting and inaccurate,” it said.

“Regardless of attendances, this board has known for almost a year that they had to raise significant finance to see the season through. They have failed to do so.

“They are responsible for the drop in attendances and they are responsible for the abject failure to address the medium to long term finances, stability and prosperity of Rangers Football Club.”

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