RANGERS last night refused to give a definitive position on Mike Ashley’s demand for a general meeting at which he intends to ask shareholders to approve immediate repayment of the £5 million loan he provided earlier this year.
The Ibrox club have until next Wednesday to provide a response to Ashley’s requisition letter, which came to light yesterday.
In it, the Newcastle United owner, who has an 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers, called for the meeting. He is also seeking answers from the board over the club’s delisting from the AIM stock exchange.
In addition, Ashley wants clarity on the nature of the failed pursuit of a nominated adviser (Nomad) – a development that followed Dave King’s insistence on the day that his group wrested control of the club from Ashley that one had been lined up.
A spokesman for Rangers stated only that “the board have received the request [for the meeting] and are considering it with our advisers.”
Repayment of the Ashley loan would mean the club regaining securities over branding, the Murray Park training ground and a 25 per cent stake of the club retail rights currently held by the Sports Direct billionaire.
“If [the Rangers board] are, in fact, are happy for Sports Direct to have security over the club’s assets they will vote down what Mike Ashley is proposing”Source close to Mike Ashley
Ashley’s move has been presented in some quarters as calling King’s bluff. The South African-based businessman has yet to commit any funds to Rangers following the general meeting more than two months ago that brought the ousting of Ashley allies Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, and so allowed King backers Paul Murray and John Gilligan to lead up a recast board.
In order to meet last month’s payroll, the club accepted a £1.5m loan from the Three Bears consortium comprising Douglas Park – now also a Rangers director – George Letham and George Taylor and Ashley also wants the terms of this loan to be explained at a general meeting, which would require to be held before 17 June. King has given his critics, and the Ashley camp, justification to pursue the current course of action. He has failed to meet his pledge of providing supporters with “accountability and transparency” .
That was true over the abortive Nomad appointment. In addition, though, the impression now being given is that his investment proposals could be impacted upon by whether the SFA deem him fit and proper to be a Rangers director again.
• Celtic’s forgotten man Holmbert Fridjonsson admits he could leave Parkhead this summer – just 18 months after penning a four-year contracts.
The lanky Icelander is yet to make a first-team appearance since joining the club from Fram Reykjavik in a £100,000 deal in January 2013.
He has spent this season on loan with Brondby in the Danish Superliga, scoring once in 13 appearances during an injury-hit campaign.
Fridjonsson is in the dark regarding Ronny Deila’s plans for him when he returns to Glasgow.
He said: “I might return to Celtic, but I do not know for sure. I need to talk to the manager about it.
“It was Neil Lennon who signed me and now there is a new manager [Deila] who I have not spoken much with.
“He has his own system and its own players and I need to find out whether I fit into, or if I should find a new club.”