Rangers ‘still face Mike Ashley threat’, warns Dave King

Rangers chairman Dave King has been locked in a fierce battle with the billionaire Sports Direct tycoon since March. Picture: SNS Group

Rangers chairman Dave King has been locked in a fierce battle with the billionaire Sports Direct tycoon since March. Picture: SNS Group

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Rangers chairman Dave King has revealed the club face ongoing legal threats from Mike Ashley as their bitter civil war shows no sign of relenting.

The South Africa-based businessman has been locked in a fierce battle with the billionaire Sports Direct tycoon since he forced the former Ashley-backed board out of Ibrox in March.

But Newcastle United owner Ashley has refused to back down, with his controversial retail deal – which soaks up 75 per cent of the club’s merchandise profits – a continuing source of frustration for the Rangers chief.

King held talks with Sports Direct bosses during the summer but failed to broker a peace agreement.

Then in June, Ashley used his 9 per cent stake in the Glasgow giants to call an emergency general meeting and demand repayment of a £5 million loan issued to the old Rangers board.

King refused to pay and responded by threatening to reveal the contents of the agreements struck between former Rangers chief executive Charles Green and Sports Direct following the club’s liquidation meltdown – only for Ashley to successfully gag the Ibrox chairman after taking out injunctions in Edinburgh and London.

In a statement, King said: “The gagging order prevents me from disclosing the details of our contractual relationship (but) it does not prevent me from updating supporters on the status of the general relationship with Sports Direct.

“Sports Direct continues to litigate with the club in an attempt to enforce its wishes and demands.

“This seems based on the simple logic that Sports Direct can outspend the club in legal fees and thereby deal with the club as it pleases. I assure supporters that the club will not be cowed by this threat and the recent lack of communication (as a result of the gagging order) belies the level of robustness with which the club’s interest has been and will be protected.”

Meanwhile, Rangers forward Ryan Hardie has signed a two-year contract extension beyond the summer. Hardie, 18, made his debut in a League Cup win over Falkirk in September last year and has made eight first-team appearances.

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