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Retail tycoon snubbed in shares plan

SFA rejects Ashley bid to raise stake in Rangers

IbroxRangers’ attempts to raise finance were thrown into further chaos today after the Scottish Football Association rejected 8.9% shareholder Mike Ashley’s hopes of increasing his stake to 29.9%.

That would have given the billionaire owner of retail chain Sports Direct a shareholding just below the threshold which triggers a mandatory bid for all the shares in the club.

It still intends to raise funds through an issue of shares but Ashley would have given Rangers another route to finding at least £8 million needed to keep the club trading for another year.

However, it would also have increased Ashley’s effective control of the club and broken the SFA’s 10% rule. He has already made two interest free loans totalling £3 million but Rangers needs money quickly to meet its day-to-day liabilities.

The talks today came ahead of an official hearing into Newcastle United owner Ashley’s involvement in Rangers which is to take place on 27 January.

Derek Llambias, the new Rangers chief executive, has said he will do whatever it requires to help the Ibrox club survive, but the process is clearly paved with difficulties.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the SFA said: “The Scottish FA Board convened on Tuesday, December 23 to hear a submission from the Board of Rangers Football Club. This meeting was arranged in respect of a request set out in an Application to Consent to an increase in MASH Holdings Limited’s shareholding in Rangers International Football Club to a maximum of 29.9% of the issued share capital.

“The Board has now carefully considered the Application and has decided, unanimously, that the Application should not be granted.

“The Board, under Article 13 of the Scottish FA Articles of Association, is required to have due regard to the need to promote and safeguard the interests and public profile of association football, its players, spectators and others involved with the game. This test is set out in full in Article 13.6.”


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