Three Bears ‘offer £10m to see off Mike Ashley’

The Three Bears are ready to double their offer if it keeps Ibrox out of Mike Ashley's hands. Picture: John Devlin
The Three Bears are ready to double their offer if it keeps Ibrox out of Mike Ashley's hands. Picture: John Devlin
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The Three Bears say they are willing to double their £5 million loan offer to Rangers if it keeps Ibrox out of Mike Ashley’s hands.

The Newcastle United owner has filed documents notifying land register bosses that he plans to take out security on the stadium and Murray Park.

The billionaire tycoon is preparing to hand over an emergency loan to the crisis-hit club, with the BBC reporting he has offered £10 million to help see the club through the rest of January.

But it has outraged the Light Blues faithful, who fear their home ground could fall into Ashley’s hands forever if Rangers were to suffer another meltdown.

Rangers: Ashley signals loan with securities move

The move also promises to be a major set-back to the Bears - wealthy fans Douglas Park, George Taylor and George Letham - if successful as their consortium, combined with Dave King, try to force a shake-up of the Gers board.

A £5 million loan offered by Park’s group two weeks ago remains on the table but they now say they are willing to match Ashley’s terms if it will safeguard Ibrox.

A spokesman for the Bears said: “If we are to believe the BBC report then the Board may be suffering from a bout of amnesia.

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“A £5 million funding package was offered by us after discussions with Board members regarding the amount required by the club. If the Board are now saying they need more than £5 million then we are prepared to increase our funding package to begin the process of putting Rangers back on a firm financial footing.

“We hope this can be agreed soon so we can put an end to the suffering of Rangers fans who have been shown complete disregard for far too long. Rangers supporters deserve greater respect and it would be foolish to take them for granted. They have had enough and will not take any more.

“Our initial funding offer also asked for a negative pledge on Ibrox, which is a guarantee that security over that asset couldn’t be given to anyone else. This condition was refused by the Board and we accepted this on the basis of the Board’s previous statements that Ibrox would be sacrosanct.

“Rangers fans, including ourselves, do not want Ibrox given over as security to anyone. The very notion is abhorrent to us and that it is even being considered suggests at best a lack of understanding of what Ibrox represents and at worst a callous disrespect.

“There is absolutely no need for Ibrox to be used as security when there are people ready and committed to offer more than adequate funding while at the same time protecting the stadium.”

The Rangers board has already admitted the club could go under again if it does not find fresh cash by the end of the month.

The papers lodged with the Registers of Scotland by Ashley - officially known as an advance notice - protect the title deeds of both Ibrox and Murray Park and mean anyone else looking to issue the board a loan would not be able to take Ibrox or Murray Park as security.

The document is valid for 35 days, meaning Ashley has until February 17 to strike a rescue deal.

Jon Daly wary of ‘mouthing off’ about Hearts

However, the 50-year-old’s latest posturing shows he is not ready to loosen his grasp on power at Rangers.

King and the Bears remain his only opponents in the battle for control after US financier Robert Sarver’s £20 million takeover bid was rejected on Monday.

They bought up two chunks of shares which combined equate to around 34 per cent of the club - a figure which allows them to call an EGM and a series of votes to rout the board of unpopular directors like chairman David Somers and James Easdale.

They would need to be certain of having majority shareholder support for that to happen and have so far resisted taking that option.

Calling an EGM would take several weeks and the Bears’ worry is what Ashley will do in the meantime while he still pulls the strings.

He owns 8.92 per cent of the Light Blues but strengthened his position after handing over a £3 million emergency loan late last year.

We’ll go to court to stop Ashley, vow Rangers fans

He has already placed right-hand men Derek Llambias and Barry Leach on to the board as chief executive and financial director and continues to run the club’s retail division at rates highly beneficial to him.

The Rangers board is on record saying it would not grant security on Ibrox to anyone.

In a statement issued on May 6 last year, the directors announced they had “no intention of granting security over Ibrox to anybody”, adding: “Our stadium is sacrosanct.”

But it replied to Thursday’s reports by announcing to the Stock Exchange: “The company notes the recent speculation in the press. The directors confirm that they are currently considering various proposals to secure the financial future of the club, however no decision has been made at this time.”

The Ibrox faithful, however, insist they will fight any move to give away control of Ibrox - even if it means going to court.

In a statement, the Rangers Supporters Trust said: “We are taking urgent legal advice regarding this attempt by the board of Rangers Football Club to pass the most prized assets of the club to Mike Ashley.

“We believe the board may be acting illegally on two fronts and we will be working with any other shareholder who wishes to challenge this. If necessary we will instigate legal action against the directors both collectively and individually.

“We have also contacted several MPs and will be seeking political and government support to stop this attempted asset grab.”

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