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Ashley faces SFA action over Rangers’ role
From the Financial Times of Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:07:00 GMT

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley’s grip on Rangers is under threat after Scottish football authorities filed a formal case against him for alleged breaches of rules relating to running more than one club.

The Sports Direct entrepreneur is the owner of Newcastle United and has built up a stake in Rangers that stands at 8.9 per cent.

He signed an agreement with the Scottish Football Association that he would not take his stake above 9.9 per cent, in order to comply with its “dual interest” rules.

These are designed to prevent the owner of a club elsewhere having a sizeable interest in a Scottish club.

But the undertaking also required Mr Ashley not to exert undue influence and control over Rangers.

Mr Ashley has negotiated with Rangers to provide two loan payments totalling £3m.

He also agitated for the removal of two directors, including Graham Wallace, former chief executive. Mr Wallace and former financial consultant Philip Nash subsequently quit the club.

A third Rangers board director left last week.

Mr Ashley has been allowed to nominate two board directors. Derek Llambias, a long-term football adviser to Mr Ashley and former managing director at Newcastle United, was last month appointed to the board.

The SFA wrote to Mr Ashley and the club when these arrangements came to light and has now announced that it is to stage a hearing into three alleged breaches against Rangers, and two against Mr Ashley.

Rangers is alleged to have breached one regulation requiring the club to act in good faith.

Both the club and Mr Ashley are alleged to have breached rule 19 — the dual interest rule — and rule 77, which requires them to act in the best interests of football.

The hearing is set for January 27.

Mr Ashley, Rangers and the SFA could not be reached for comment.

The SFA’s move comes a week before the cash-strapped club holds its annual meeting when it will seek shareholder approval to raise money through issuing new shares.

The AGM comes at a time when the club is searching not just for a new chief executive but a new manager. Rangers announced on Monday that Ally McCoist had resigned, and that he was on a 12-month notice period.

“The directors will hold discussions with Mr McCoist to seek an amicable solution in the best interests of the company, and expect to be in a position to make a further announcement before the end of the week,” Rangers said.

The club added that Mr McCoist’s salary would “increase significantly” to £750,000 a year during the notice period.

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