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Ashley rescues Rangers in £2m deal

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has bailed out Rangers FC after the board of the cash-strapped club accepted his offer of a £2 million loan.

A rival 11th hour offer from Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy was rejected, according to Press Association reports.

Ashley, who owns Newcastle United, has an 8.92% stake in the Ibrox club and appears to have won over the board in spite of Kennedy’s higher offer of £3m. The deal, understood to include the option of a new share issue, is expected to see the departure of chief executive Graham Wallace, who had campaigned in favour of a £16m rescue package being put forward by the South African investor Dave King.

It is also thought the board had contacted administrators who were due to arrive within 48 hours.

Board chairman and McGills bus company owner Sandy Easdale – who controls a significant 26% stake – wanted Ashley to get involved.

He already runs Rangers’ retail division and bought naming rights to the stadium from the former chief executive Charles Green for just £1. Earlier this month Ashley also called an emergency shareholder meeting to vote off Wallace and the finance director Philip Nash who quit last week.

Ashley is prevented from owning more than 10% of Rangers by a deal struck with the Scottish Football Association though he is said to want a bigger holding in the club which may accelerate his plans to sell Newcastle United. He will be aware that Rangers will almost certainly return to the Scottish top flight in the next couple of years and that European football will be back on the agenda.

Ashley’s deal allows him to choose two directors to replace Nash and Wallace. There were some reports that Wallace would not resign, meaning Ashley would have to press ahead with an extraordinary meeting.

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