King attacks Ashley's 'incessant litigation'
Rangers agree to repay Ashley’s £5 million loan
Rangers will repay minority shareholder Mike Ashley’s £5 million loan, the club’s chairman Dave King told shareholders today.
Mr King (pictured), addressing the annual general meeting at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, said the repayment had been agreed last night.
It will mean a number of securities, including trademarks, such as the badge, will revert back to Rangers.
The loan repayment will be met by members of the so-called Three Bears: Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor. John Bennet and Mr King will also provide funds.
Ashley provided the money as part of a crucial support package to help keep the club afloat.
Mr Ashley did not attend today’s meeting at which Mr King again aimed his criticism at Mr Ashley for what he called his “incessant litigation”.
The chairman told shareholders: “The new board has faced difficult but perhaps not totally unexpected challenges since it was installed – not the least being the incessant litigation by the Sports Direct Group under the guidance of Mike Ashley.
“Sports Direct appears to be working to an agenda which, very clearly, is not assisting our club’s full rehabilitation. There is a desire to drag Rangers through the courts and thereby slow our progress rather than seek compromise or fairness.
“But we remain absolutely resolute, as was partly evidenced by our robust and successful defence of the absurd legal claim by Charles Green, that we will defend Rangers interests in the courts when required to do so and will do whatever we can to ensure that Rangers enjoys a much more stable and successful future.”
But he was unable to answer many questions from shareholders, he said, because of the “gagging order” imposed on him.
He said: “I would, of course, like to discuss every aspect of the business with all of you here today because you are entitled to know as much as possible about what is going on with, and in, your company, but unfortunately certain legal rulings make that impossible. Sports Direct’s gagging order has made it impossible for your board to answer all of your likely questions today.
“In particular, Sports Direct’s gagging order against the Company and its officers means I cannot talk about the manner in which a vital and historically very profitable part of our business has been managed under the stewardship of Sports Direct and its senior management. The relationship with Sports Direct continues to impact on Rangers but as long as we, all of us, stand united we will succeed in ultimately securing more mutually beneficial partnerships in the future.”
On a more positive tone, he said prospects were brighter than for some time.
“We will make it back to the very top of the domestic game because both the size and determination of the Rangers support demands and guarantees that. It is a voice that cannot be ignored, especially when we speak as one,” he said.
“It is our unity and absolute belief in Rangers that makes us strong and capable of meeting and dealing with all of the challenges before us and any threats made against us. The club is recovering from all manner of problems and malicious attacks but Rangers is now irreversibly on the way back. Nothing and no one will prevent us from reaching our goals.
“More specifically, it is the Board’s intention to provide the manager with the appropriate level of resources to secure promotion to the Premier League and open the doorway into Europe. A Club the size of this one, with our unrivalled history and titles, must always be open to challenges and willing to test itself against the very best.
“Unfortunately, too many of the challenges in recent years have come off the pitch and behind the scenes. There were individuals on previous Boards who actively contributed to the problems that continue to impact negatively on the business. Thankfully, it now appears that justice will be done and those responsible called to account. In the meantime, we must focus on what we can do to ensure Rangers’ upward trajectory continues.
“It is our collective belief that kept Rangers alive despite the crimes, the punishments, the abuse, the lies and, sometimes, even hatred that the club has endured. No club has been made to suffer as this one has but we are here today and we will be here tomorrow and every day after that. And because of our belief, Rangers will emerge stronger than ever.”