The are questions coming up of what Mike Ashley;s plans are in the future, with the news that he wants to increase his share in Rangers FC by underwriting a £4M share issue.
Mike Ashley – aiming to buy Rangers?
At the moment he owns under 10% (said to be 7% right now) of the Scottish powerhouse, and that could take him up to 20% ownership, and while you are allowed to own two football clubs under FIFA’s strict rules, they cannot play in the same competitions – otherwise integrity issues come up.
But the Premier League rules are more strict, and with FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League the rules are not exactly the same.
It could be that Mike Ashley is buying up an increasing percentage of Rangers while they are still cheap and on their way back to the Scottish Premier League, and once they are back again in the SPL (possibly next year at this time) and in the top two with Celtic, they will be worth a lot more than they are today – and they will be back in the Champions League.
Rangers are now in the second tier of Scottish football, one division below the SPL, having been promoted in both of the last two years, since they were broken up two years ago and put down to the bottom division of the Scottish League.
So it could be that once Rangers are back in Europe, then Mike could buy the Scottish club outright and at that time could be looking for a buyer for Newcastle United – so he doesn’t infringe on the dual ownership rules.
If Mike Ashley wants to have a club in Europe, and get the benefits of advertising his Sports Direct business, it would be much cheaper to buy Rangers than to have to invest in Newcastle United, when there are richer and bigger clubs in England.
We think that could be his strategy and it has got the Ranger’s fans a little worried, and A Union of Fans (A group of Rangers supporters’ representatives) long statement read as follows:
“We believe the SFA have been approached to find out what would be required to give clearance for this, due to Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle United.”
“We would question the wisdom of approaching someone who, despite his obvious wealth, cannot significantly invest in the club without removing himself from his ownership position at Newcastle.”
“We are also concerned that, under UEFA regulations on dual ownership of clubs, Mr Ashley cannot have a ‘decisive influence over decision making’ at Rangers without it leading to the possibility of us not being able to compete in European competition.”
“He could find himself holding around 20% of the shares in our club, having control of all club merchandise and being the largest single shareholder if he underwrites this share issue.”
“Will the board clear this unequivocally, and in advance, with UEFA to ensure that Rangers will not miss out on European football in the future because of Mr Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle?”
“Finally, Mr Ashley’s initial purchase of shares in Rangers appears to have been linked to his Sports Direct merchandise deal. The only man inside Rangers who liked that deal at the time it was put in place was (former chief executive) Charles Green.
“We hope that any possible assistance given to the board by Mr Ashley at this time will not see him clinch another favorable deal, perhaps to rename Ibrox at a knock down price.”
Needless to say Rangers fans are wary of Mike Ashley taking over their club, and some of their issues are described above.
We don’t know what Mike Ashley’s intentions really are, but this is one possible scenario where he would sell Newcastle UNited, possibly in a couple of years time, once Rangers are back in the Champions League.
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