Ex-Rangers shareholder Mike Ashley ‘not involved in Morton takeover bid’

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Derek Llambias has rubbished claims that Mike Ashley is the driving force behind a reported buyout plan for Greenock Morton.

The former Rangers chief executive hinted that he and other investors in the Cappielow outfit may consider a takeover but admitted that any movement would be a “long way off”.

Derek Llambias, right, with Mike Ashley at a Newcastle United match. Picture: Getty images

Derek Llambias, right, with Mike Ashley at a Newcastle United match. Picture: Getty images

But Llambias did pour cold water on suggestions that Newcastle United owner Ashley was backing any prospective bids, insisting: “We don’t need his money.”

He added: It’s got nothing to do with Mike Ashley. Morton’s not a very expensive club to buy, is it? I’ve no idea what the price would be, but it’s not a huge investment.”

Llambias and ex-Magpies scout Graham Carr paid a low-key visit to the Championship club on Monday, where they took in a reserve match and met chief executive Warren Hawke and manager Jonatan Johansson.

The 61-year-old added: “We were shown round the club - it’s a nice little club, with potential, so watch this space.

“But we’re not committing to anything. The main thing was to look at the reserves and have a look at Alexander Easdale [son of Morton investor and former Rangers chairman Sandy].

“Morton have some good quality coming through. Whenever I’ve got the chance to see a player, I ask Grahamn to come along and have a look. He’s a good friend of mine and he’s got an eye for a player and plenty of experience.”

Llambias insisted that he was “just looking”, at Morton, adding: “I belong to a group of high-network individuals. We look at all sorts of things — sports, property. It’s a nice little group of people.

“They know I’ve gone to Morton. We’re just looking. I’m not saying we’re going to get involved. It’s a nice little club and it’s got potential, but I’m not so sure it will be for us. There’s a long way to go yet.

“We could do it ourselves, there’s not a problem with that. We’re not acting for any group. There’s no commitment from us to buy it.

“We were just up for a couple of days. I was introduced to the manager and the chief executive. We had a look around, that was it.”

Chairman Crawford Rae, who took the reins earlier this year following the death of his father Douglas, has not spoken with Llambias, but The Sun reports that he is prepared to cut a deal to sell his controlling interest in the club.

Morton’s last accounts statement revealed losses of more than £2 million which had been offset by Rae senior’s confectionery firm providing loans while he was still chairman.

Earlier this year, Morton were forced to deny local reports suggesting that the club would be upping sticks to a new site at the former IBM factory at the other end of the town.