THE Rangers plc board have been accused of cowardice by a group of the club’s supporters who believe the decision to accept Mike Ashley’s £2 million loan has effectively sanctioned “corporate pillaging” at Ibrox.
In a strongly-worded and emotive response to the increased boardroom influence at Rangers of Newcastle United owner Ashley, as his associate Derek Llambias moved closer to becoming the club’s new chief executive yesterday, the Union of Fans claimed that the plc board had been “bullied” into favouring the funding deal ahead of former Ibrox director Dave King’s proposed £16m bailout.
An umbrella group with representatives from six different Rangers supporters bodies, the Union of Fans also questioned the motives of football board chairman and major shareholder Sandy Easdale, suggesting he was simply intent on retaining his “club tie”.
As part of the agreement to provide Rangers with a £2m credit facility, Ashley’s MASH Holdings company – which owns almost 9 per cent of shares in the Ibrox club – will appoint two representatives to the plc board.
Former Newcastle managing director Llambias held talks at Ibrox yesterday over the chief executive role with Easdale confirming that he is acting as a “consultant” in the meantime. Another of Sports Direct tycoon Ashley’s business colleagues, Stephen Lucklow, has been tipped to fill the second seat at the boardroom table.
In their statement issued yesterday, the Union of Fans urged fellow supporters to give consideration to any future purchases of Rangers matchday tickets and merchandise from both club shops and Sports Direct stores.
One of the supporters’ groups, Sons of Struth, boycotted last night’s League Cup quarter-final against St Johnstone at Ibrox and held a protest outside the stadium before kick-off.
“The Rangers support and the club itself has once again been betrayed by those tasked with overseeing the health and success of our great football club,” read the Union of Fans statement.
“The decision by the non-executive directors of the Plc board, Mr David Somers, Mr James Easdale and Mr Norman Crighton, to effectively hand control of the club to Mike Ashley in return for a £2m, short-term loan, is an absolute disgrace.
“They have acted in a cowardly way and have been bullied by Mike Ashley and Sandy Easdale into giving them precisely what they want, with no regard for the club.
“The club was at a crossroads. The board had to decide whether to take us down the route of a long-term, £16m, sustainable investment and the start of a process where fans could once again trust those tasked with nursing Rangers back to health.
“Instead they have handed