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Rangers fans demand answers from board over Mike Ashley's involvement with club


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Rangers Supporters Trust has demanded that the club keep its promise to answer questions about Mike Ashley.

 

By Roddy Forsyth

 

7:59PM GMT 29 Dec 2014

 

Comments4 Comments

 

The Rangers Supporters Trust has demanded that the club keep its promise to answer questions about Mike Ashley which shareholders were unable to put to the board at last week’s stormy annual general meeting. David Somers, the Rangers plc chairman, was widely criticised for curtailing the proceedings before questions could be posed about the Newcastle United owner’s dealings with the club, especially in relation to his Sports Direct retail chain.

 

Somers promised that he would respond by email to questions which were not addressed at the AGM. One question follows the Telegraph Sport’s disclosure that when Ashley gave up the naming rights to Ibrox Stadium notoriously acquired for £1 from Charles Green’s Sevco consortium – he got substantial commercial and advertising concessions within the ground.

 

The Rangers board is exploring its options for fresh funding after the rejection by the Scottish Football Association of Ashley’s attempt to increase his shareholding in the club from 8.92% to 29.9%. It is understood that one possibility – again cited by Telegraph Sport – is to maintain cash flow by a series of emergency loans from Ashley, secured on assets.

 

Ashley has already provided £3 million in loans but Rangers need another £8 million to see them through 2015. They have an offer of £6 million from three wealthy supporters, Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor, conditional on board representation.

 

However, Ashley could choose to defy the SFA by increasing his stake in the club despite their refusal to sanction it, a course of action that could lead to the governing body to withdraw Rangers’ license to play football. In the meantime, the RST’s questions include the following:

 

“Can the Board outline the terms of the recently announced new commercial arrangements with Sports Direct? Specifically, can the board confirm if future years’ shirt sponsor revenues will be for the benefit of the club or for the benefit of Sports Direct and does Sports Direct have the right to choose a shirt sponsor after the end of 32 Red three year sponsor period?

 

“It is a widely held view that Mike Ashley tried to undermine the recent share issue by initially offering to underwrite it, then withdrawing this offer, and publicly announcing he would not be taking up his rights, only to then go out in the market the following week and buy further shares in the market for the same price.

 

“This appears to have been a clear strategy to undermine the success of that share issue. On what basis does the Board consider it appropriate to enter into further business relationships with an individual who was clearly attempting to undermine the financial position of the club for his own advantage?

 

“Can the board confirm if it is in discussions with Sports Direct or any other Mike Ashley company to sell a further stake in the Rangers Retail business? If so, what percentage stake is being considered for sale and at what value?

 

“It has been reported that Derek Llambias will earn a salary of £150k as CEO. Will Mr Llambias advise shareholders if he is also entitled to other benefits (housing costs, car allowances, pension) and in particular if he is eligible for any bonus payment? If he is eligible for a bonus then on what basis will this be earned? Has he moved to Glasgow?

 

“Is the Board considering using Murray Park as security for further loans from Mike Ashley, Mash Holdings or Sports Direct affiliated companies? If so, how much is the Board seeking to raise from this asset?

 

“The club appears to have granted considerable additional stadium branding rights to Sports Direct and Mike Ashley companies. Can the board outline exactly how much additional advertising inventory has been given toSports Direct/Mike Ashley and what value or consideration has been received for this?

 

“The club needs major investment. Why did the board not seek to persuade Sandy Easdale to vote his proxy block of 26% to support a new share issue? As Mr Easdale did not support such a new issue, blocking muchneeded fresh investment, is his position on the football board untenable?

 

“Mr Llambias you sat in front of around 200 fans at Ibrox, next to Charles Green, and told us of the benefits and "millions of pounds" the naming rights for Ibrox would bring to Rangers. Did you know at that time that your boss, Mike Ashley, was getting those rights for £1? Why should any Rangers fans trust you when your first interaction with us was to mislead us on behalf of Mr Ashley?

 

“How much did the club receive per £10 spent by fans from retail sales through Rangers Retail in the June 2013-June 2014 financial year?

 

“What has Mike Ashley been given in return for giving up the naming rights that Charles Green handed him for £1?

 

“Can you explain why the board took Mike Ashley’s loans and gave him control of the running of the club despite it clearly being contrary to

 

SFA and UEFA rules and therefore inevitably opening up the club to a charge?

 

“Can the board confirm why, after 40 odd years of service, loyal employees are being cast out the door with the minimum possible redundancy pay and a paltry two weeks’ pay as a 'goodwill' gesture?”

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/rangers/11316773/Rangers-fans-demand-answers-from-board-over-Mike-Ashleys-involvement-with-club.html

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Theres too many questions there. Better to be few and telling, force an answer that is either frank or so vague as to betray the real answer. Typical of so many of the groups out there. Well meaning but not very smart...

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Theres too many questions there. Better to be few and telling, force an answer that is either frank or so vague as to betray the real answer. Typical of so many of the groups out there. Well meaning but not very smart...

 

It's a relatively slow tome for sports news, especially in Scotland. So a fan statement with a nice juicy word count is a God send and likely to be more welcome at newsdesks.

 

Also, the RST know that neither Llambias nor the board will so much as shrug in response. The point is not to force answers, since we know they are totally contemptuous of fans and, like the Somers email, will simply ignore it, but to drive home again and again to fans that the club is being run only to provide financial benefits to a group of corporate raiders.

 

Not only well meaning but pretty smart.

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It's a relatively slow tome for sports news, especially in Scotland. So a fan statement with a nice juicy word count is a God send and likely to be more welcome at newsdesks.

 

Also, the RST know that neither Llambias nor the board will so much as shrug in response. The point is not to force answers, since we know they are totally contemptuous of fans and, like the Somers email, will simply ignore it, but to drive home again and again to fans that the club is being run only to provide financial benefits to a group of corporate raiders.

 

Not only well meaning but pretty smart.

 

Agreed. The media are well aware that Rangers are in dire mess financially but not who is responsible for it. What this drives home is that we are being run into the ground for the benefit of a few individuals while they pick up a host of unearned benefits before the music stops.

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