Rangers fans want assurances on Mike Ashley

RANGERS fans’ groups have expressed concern over the board’s reported attempts to get Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to underwrite a £4 million share issue.

Mike Ashley could increase his investment in Rangers. Picture: Getty

Ashley already owns about 7 per cent of the club’s shares and the Union of Fans, an umbrella group of Rangers supporters’ representatives, has demanded assurances over dual ownership complications.

A Union of Fans statement read: “We believe the SFA have been approached to find out what would be required to give clearance for this, due to Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United.

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“We would question the wisdom of approaching someone who, despite his obvious wealth, cannot significantly invest in the club without removing himself from his ownership position at Newcastle.”

The statement added: “We are also concerned that, under Uefa regulations on dual ownership of clubs, Mr Ashley cannot have a ‘decisive influence over decision making’ at Rangers without it leading to the possibility of us not being able to compete in European competition.

“He could find himself holding around 20 per cent of the shares in our club, having control of all club merchandise and being the largest single shareholder if he underwrites this share issue. Will the board clear this unequivocally, and in advance, with Uefa to ensure that Rangers will not miss out on European football in the future because of Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle?

“Finally, Mr Ashley’s initial purchase of shares in Rangers appears to have been linked to his Sports Direct merchandise deal.

“The only man inside Rangers who liked that deal at the time it was put in place was (former chief executive) Charles Green. We hope that any possible assistance given to the board by Mr Ashley at this time will not see him clinch another favourable deal, perhaps to rename Ibrox at a knock down price.”

Share issue

The Ibrox club have been forced into issuing another share issue following disappointing season ticket sales and hope to raise £4m from existing investors.

The latest update from the club revealed only about half of last season’s 34,000 tickets had been renewed.

Earlier this year, the League One champions were forced to take a £1.5 million loan out from football club chairman Sandy Easdale and wealthy supporter George Letham to avert another financial disaster.

Graham added: “The club needs urgent, substantial investment - not a short term fix which will be lucky to see us past Christmas.

“Even if they are successful in raising the £4m, almost half the money will immediately have to be used to repay overdue loans.”