NEWCASTLE OWNER MIKE ASHLEY HAS INCREASED HIS STAKE IN RANGERS TO ALMOST 9 PER CENT.
Ashley’s MASH Holdings Ltd has been named as the purchaser of more than four million shares, which were sold by Hargreave Hale earlier this week. Several updates to the London Stock Exchange show that Ashley transferred his existing shareholding to MASH Holdings, which he owns in its entirety, to give him a total stake of 8.92 per cent.
The Sports Direct founder emerged as the mystery buyer behind the purchase of a 5.23 per cent stake which was completed on his behalf by Paris-based BNP Paribas Arbitrage SNC. According to share information on the Rangers International Football Club plc website, Ashley becomes the third-largest shareholder behind Laxey Partners (16.32 per cent) and Artemis (9.95 per cent), although football club director Sandy Easdale holds voting rights of more than 26 per cent of the shares.
It is understood that Ashley previously signed an agreement with the Scottish football authorities that would prevent him owning more than 10 per cent of Rangers’ shares while he retains control of Newcastle.
Ashley’s move comes weeks after he stated to the London Stock Exchange that he was not taking part in a share offer which was open to all existing Rangers shareholders. The board had hoped to raise about £4 million but fell almost £1m short, with half of the new income quickly going out of Ibrox to repay loans.
Ashley bought his latest batch of shares for 20p each – the same price at which they were on sale for in the open offer.
Speculation on his intentions for Rangers, and the possible problems caused by football rules regarding influence at more than one club, forced Ashley to reaffirm his commitment to Newcastle in a club statementlast month.
Meanwhile, Bilel Mohsni has accepted a two-match ban for lashing out at Hibernian’s Liam Fontaine – but team-mate Kris Boyd has vowed to fight a separate charge aimed at him.
Both players were issued with notices of complaints by new Scottish Football Association compliance officer Tony McGlennan following off-the-ball incidents in Monday night’s surprise 3-1 defeat by Scottish Championship rivals Hibernian at Ibrox.
They were each accused of “violent conduct” but, while Mohsni has accepted his charge, Boyd will now argue his case before a Hampden hearing next Thursday.
Boyd is accused of trying to butt Jordon Foster after the pair went head-to-head in the Hibs box late in the game.
Tunisian Mohsni – who appeared to argue with his own supporters as he headed down the tunnel at half-time – has been cited after he appeared to swing an arm at Leith defender Fontaine. He lashed out after the Hibs defender knocked the ball out of his hands as he raced back to the halfway line following Nicky Law’s 55th-minute consolation goal for the hosts.
The 27-year-old will now miss the Scottish Championship clash at Livingston on Saturday as well as Tuesday’s Petrofac Training Cup quarter-final clash with East Fife.
McGlennan is in his first week as the SFA’s new disciplinary chief after replacing Vincent Lunny.