Rangers chair will continue to fight rotten Newcastle owner
Rangers chairman Dave King vowed yesterday to stand up to Mike Ashley’s attempts to “bully” the Ibrox board.
The long-running dispute between the Rangers board and the Sports Direct founder looks set to rumble on into 2017.
Gers have launched a £4 million legal action against Newcastle owner Ashley and former club officials Charles Green, Imran Ahmad, Brian Stockbridge and Derek Llambias over commercial deals stuck by the Light Blues’ previous regime.
But Ashley initiated his own action against King, vice-chairman Paul Murray and the club itself after Rangers tore up retail arrangements with his firm.
King, addressing the club’s annual general meeting in Glasgow, said: “The last year has seen a continuation of Mike Ashley and Sports Direct’s attempts to bully your company’s directors by suing them in their personal capacity.
“The present board comprises supporters who signed up for this challenge and who are not intimidated in the slightest by such bullies.”
Gers made a loss of £3.3m for the year up to June 30 and King confirmed soft loans from investor groups such as the so-called Three Bears “remain necessary” to keep the club afloat.
But he also confessed the club faces having to shell out significant sums on legal fees to defend itself against Ashley’s courtroom challenges for a “period of time.”
Earlier this year, a senior judge at the High Court in London branded Sports Direct’s attempt to have King jailed for contempt of court as “designed to intimidate” following a hearing over an alleged breach of confidentiality. The zero-hours behemoth later dropped the case.
“The situation with Sports Direct is pretty much out of our control as to what Mike Ashley might or might not do,” explained King. “What we can say is that Mike Ashley will do what he will do and we will resist it and defend it as strongly as we have done.”
King is now hoping shareholders will arm him with the power to water down Ashley’s 8.9 per cent stake in the club. The board proposed a special resolution to offer shares to investors without needing to involve all existing shareholders.
King’s board — who failed with a similar attempt last year — will find out early next week whether it has gained the 75 per cent backing needed to overcome the opposition of Ashley and former directors Sandy and James Easdale.
And the chairman said: “Over the last year we have made attempts to convince dissenting shareholders of the merit and business sense of our funding strategy.
“I’ve been advised that Ashley and the so-called Easdale Bloc have again opposed the resolutions tabled at this AGM but I hope our achievements over the last year may result in some of the others being won over.”
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