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Eight questions that reveal the real Mike Ashley to Gers supporters


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RECORD Sport asks eight key questions about the Sports Direct Tycoon and attempts to discover the reasons behind his bid for power at Rangers.

 

AS the power struggle within the Ibrox boardroom intensifies it would appear “Iron” Mike Ashley is spoiling for a fight.

 

The Sports Direct tycoon last week launched a dramatic bid to remove chief executive Graham Wallace by calling an extraordinary general meeting.

 

If Ashley succeeds in ousting Wallace and director Philip Nash it could deal a knockout blow to Dave King’s hopes of assuming control.

 

King is preparing a £16million rescue plan along with Paul Murray and George Letham – which has the backing of finance expert Nash and the CEO.

 

However, Ashley has increased his shareholding to 8.9 per cent, sparking rumours he’s preparing to sell Newcastle and plough some of the cash into purchasing Rangers.

 

And if he secures enough support to remove Wallace and Nash it would almost certainly kill off any hope of King pumping money into the ailing club.

 

The outcome of the scrap could go a long way to deciding the future of Rangers although it is abundantly clear the supporters would much prefer the South Africa-based businessman to the secretive Ashley.

 

The billionaire Londoner is a loathed figure at Newcastle and has already had several run-ins with the Toon Army.

 

A reluctance for making public statements only serves to increase the sense of mystery surrounding Ashley and his interest in Rangers.

 

A hugely controversial yet influential figure, the Newcastle owner already has the naming rights over Ibrox and is reported to want control of the club crest in exchange for an emergency loan. But just who is Mike Ashley and what are his motives in football?

 

Does he deserve the hatred he gets from some Newcastle fans and should Rangers fear his bid for power?

 

Is he a ruthless tycoon who tramples on tradition and ambition? Or is he a sharp businessman whose challenge to the status quo, and ability to put up his own hard cash rather than borrowed money, should be welcomed?

Here Record Sport asks eight key questions and attempts to discover the reasons behind his intervention:

 

Q: Who is the real Ashley?

 

Colleagues describe him as gregarious, enthusiastic, passionate, ruthless. Always ready to challenge the perceived wisdom and act on instinct. Loyal to those who show him loyalty.

 

Socially he’s personable, far from being the introvert people think.

 

Those who have crossed him are less flattering in their assessment. His business practice is to aggressively pursue opponents until he’s won the battle, leaving losers in his wake.

 

Q: Why is he in the football business? Surely it isn’t worth the flak?

 

Initially he claimed to be a Newcastle fan – a colleague says Chelsea and England were his teams – who wanted to “have some fun and win trophies”.

 

But in reality he is a football speculator who has worked out the game is the perfect platform to promote Sports Direct’s global ambitions.

 

There are more than 130 Sports Direct signs around St James’ Park – and they don’t pay for the ads.

 

Sports Direct also made £3.4m by taking over Newcastle’s commercial sportswear business.

 

Q: But no football club owner makes money, do they?

 

With TV cash rolling in, a policy of selling the best players at a huge killing, and tight financial controls, he has made Newcastle one of the most profitable clubs in Europe, making £9m last year.

 

Flush with cash from floating Sports Direct, he bought Newcastle seven years ago for a cheap-looking £133m, and has loaned £129m of his fortune to settle inherited debts and keep the club running after relegation in 2009.

 

Q: Attempts to sell Newcastle have failed and now he is snapping up nine per cent of Rangers. Surely this comes at a price to the club?

 

Renaming St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena to “showcase” it for future sponsors, and bringing in pay-day lenders Wonga as shirt sponsors, show cash wins over sentiment, tradition or business morals.

 

Ashley has also ordered Newcastle to put survival in the league over cup glory, which the club argue risks relegation. That has infuriated supporters.

 

The Magpies owner made this public through a fans’ forum because he wanted the message out with no PR flannel, typical of his brazen, controversy-courting decisions.

 

“Mike makes decisions from his gut instinct,” says a close business pal. “It is hard to argue because he has built up a huge empire.”

 

Q: Has Ashley actually done any good at Newcastle?

 

Most fans will say no, fearing the ambition and excitement have gone.

 

But the £129m loan is interest free. A commercial loan that size would cost millions a year in interest. Just ask Manchester United and the Glazers.

 

He instructed staff to keep the stadium full with well-priced ticket deals. Ashley also told them he hates “overpaid freeloaders” such as agents who demand the going rate of 10-14 per cent of a deal in commission.

 

“Just because that is the way football has always done it, isn’t a reason to keep doing it for Mike,” says one source. “He’ll want it done differently.”

 

Q: But what about the current plight? Why won’t he listen to the fans, check the terrible 2014 results and sack Alan Pardew?

 

Perhaps out of loyalty. Pardew has gone along with all Ashley’s policies, including selling players such as Andy Carroll and Yohan Cabaye, and never taken his boss on in public.

 

There’s a theory that Ashley can’t be bothered with the upheaval of finding another manager. “Patience is the word,” said one source.

 

Q: So does he not care?

 

Ashley has been a regular at games this season, sometimes flying into the city in the business helicopter with what is close to a personalised reg: G-MAOL.

 

This could be support for Pardew, or to check out how poor the team has been, ahead of making a decision on his future.

 

Q: Has he got the fortune to own Newcastle and a big slice of Rangers?

 

Ashley’s stake in Sports Direct, which he founded, is worth £3billion. His holding company MASH has assets of £581m and makes an annual profit of £281m.

 

He has the clout to bail out Rangers immediately but will exact a price for any financial help.

 

Newcastle fans soon found his fortune won’t be used to bankroll a bid for glory. He will stabilise his “asset”, use it to help Sports Direct, and hope it increases in value over time.

 

One source said: “Mike won’t be drinking with fans on the terraces again, and understands many of the reasons why supporters are unhappy at Newcastle, but he is doing it his way.”

 

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/rangers-power-struggle-eight-questions-4433421

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley at Rangers? Old Firm icons ask what the problem is.

 

In a surprise twist, Richard Gough and Davie Provan both feel that Mike Ashley is the man to get Rangers back on their feet

 

Glasgow Rangers fans should be rolling out the red carpet to encourage Mike Ashley to Ibrox - according to two of the Old Firm's iconic figures.

 

Sections of Rangers fans have protested against Ashley’s input so far after he upped his stake of shares to 9%.

 

Newcastle released a statement last month insisting that Ashley was committed to the Magpies and banned the Daily Telegraph for a story that stated he was interested in selling the club.

 

Now Ashley’s interest in Rangers is the talk of Scottish football at the moment. Indeed, fans feel that a battle is developing between current Rangers board member Dave King and Ashley.

 

Former skipper Richard Gough said: “Does it have to be that way?

 

“Is there no way these two businessmen can work together for the benefit or Rangers?

 

“The Newcastle owner appears to have watertight retail contracts at Ibrox and is obviously out to make money.

 

“It’s in everyone’s best interests that Rangers are back in the Champions League as soon as possible.

 

“I’m positive about that.

 

“He has a plan and will invest the cash if he gets the chance.”

 

And Gough is convinced Ashley is beginning to dig his heels in at Ibrox.

 

Gough said: “Charles Green’s Rangers legacy has been handing over these lucrative contracts to Ashley.

 

“The Englishman is not going anywhere and by calling for an EGM and trying to remove Graham Wallace, he’s clearly out to make his presence felt.”

 

Meanwhile, Celtic legend Davie Provan also feels that Ashley would be good for Rangers.

 

Provan said: “Am I missing something with Mike Ashley?

 

“He wiped Newcastle’s debt out, handed them £130million interest free and backed Alan Pardew beyond reason.

 

“Yet the billionaire’s money isn’t welcome at Ibrox?

 

“Sure, Ashley can see there’s money to be made from Rangers merchandising but rich men usually want some bang for their buck.

 

“At Man City, Sheikh Mansour bought the club and renamed the stadium just to promote Etihad Airlines.

 

“Try finding a City fan complaining.”

 

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/newcastle-united-owner-mike-ashley-7928379?

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley at Rangers? Old Firm icons ask what the problem is.

 

In a surprise twist, Richard Gough and Davie Provan both feel that Mike Ashley is the man to get Rangers back on their feet

 

Glasgow Rangers fans should be rolling out the red carpet to encourage Mike Ashley to Ibrox - according to two of the Old Firm's iconic figures.

 

Sections of Rangers fans have protested against Ashley’s input so far after he upped his stake of shares to 9%.

 

Newcastle released a statement last month insisting that Ashley was committed to the Magpies and banned the Daily Telegraph for a story that stated he was interested in selling the club.

 

Now Ashley’s interest in Rangers is the talk of Scottish football at the moment. Indeed, fans feel that a battle is developing between current Rangers board member Dave King and Ashley.

 

Former skipper Richard Gough said: “Does it have to be that way?

 

“Is there no way these two businessmen can work together for the benefit or Rangers?

 

“The Newcastle owner appears to have watertight retail contracts at Ibrox and is obviously out to make money.

 

“It’s in everyone’s best interests that Rangers are back in the Champions League as soon as possible.

 

“I’m positive about that.

 

“He has a plan and will invest the cash if he gets the chance.”

 

And Gough is convinced Ashley is beginning to dig his heels in at Ibrox.

 

Gough said: “Charles Green’s Rangers legacy has been handing over these lucrative contracts to Ashley.

 

“The Englishman is not going anywhere and by calling for an EGM and trying to remove Graham Wallace, he’s clearly out to make his presence felt.”

 

Meanwhile, Celtic legend Davie Provan also feels that Ashley would be good for Rangers.

 

Provan said: “Am I missing something with Mike Ashley?

 

“He wiped Newcastle’s debt out, handed them £130million interest free and backed Alan Pardew beyond reason.

 

“Yet the billionaire’s money isn’t welcome at Ibrox?

 

“Sure, Ashley can see there’s money to be made from Rangers merchandising but rich men usually want some bang for their buck.

 

“At Man City, Sheikh Mansour bought the club and renamed the stadium just to promote Etihad Airlines.

 

“Try finding a City fan complaining.”

 

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/newcastle-united-owner-mike-ashley-7928379?

 

Good to see Goughie talking sense. The UoF & SoS won't like this

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Oh yes, Ashley's been a roaring success at Newcastle........

 

I think that debate has been done to death. He sure did not buy Newcastle to make them challenge for the EPL title or that many trophies, much to the disgust of the Magpies. One can fully understand that. You have to be very much on the optimistic side to think that even with Ashley's money Newcastle can become a force that is able to challenge the big three or four EPL teams for more than a season. Ashley sure knew that from the beginning. He's there for the sake of Sports Direct. You would reckon that his interest in Rangers is the same, even though the money to be made from us will be significantly less. The one thing Rangers could attract to Sports Direct is a European audience, once he gets us into Europe again. Whether that is his aim is anyone's guess and no-one on here likes to be a puppet on the strings like Newcastle. The problem right now is that this puppet master has the money to pull this through, the money to back the club financially (much like Newcastle), and a current board that has not that many options at its hands.

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I think that debate has been done to death. He sure did not buy Newcastle to make them challenge for the EPL title or that many trophies, much to the disgust of the Magpies. One can fully understand that. You have to be very much on the optimistic side to think that even with Ashley's money Newcastle can become a force that is able to challenge the big three or four EPL teams for more than a season. Ashley sure knew that from the beginning. He's there for the sake of Sports Direct. You would reckon that his interest in Rangers is the same, even though the money to be made from us will be significantly less. The one thing Rangers could attract to Sports Direct is a European audience, once he gets us into Europe again. Whether that is his aim is anyone's guess and no-one on here likes to be a puppet on the strings like Newcastle. The problem right now is that this puppet master has the money to pull this through, the money to back the club financially (much like Newcastle), and a current board that has not that many options at its hands.

Newcastle spent 16 consecutive seasons in the Premiership and now under him are in real danger of a second relegation.

 

There's nothing to stop Newcastle being a regular top 6 challenging side as they used to be.

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