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Ibrox breakthrough

Ashley sells stake in Rangers to fans-led group

Mike Ashley Sky vidRetail tycoon Mike Ashley has sold his entire stake in Rangers Football Club, ending a bitter boardroom battle which brought the club to his knees.

Mr Ashley, controller of Sports Direct, offloaded his 4.46% holding to fans’ group Club 1872 and individual investor Julian Wolhardt who each invested £1million to buy him out. They now hold about 10.7% of the company.

Wolhardt, CEO of Hong Kong based private equity firm Dehong Capital Partners, also takes a significant stake.

The 1872 group said: “Club 1872 is pleased to announce the purchase of a significant block of shares in Rangers International Football Club PLC (RIFC) – representing 4.46 per cent of the total shares in the company. These shares have been purchased from MASH Holdings Limited.

“Club 1872’s acquisition takes our shareholding in RIFC over 10 per cent, a significant marker in our progress as a shareholder/investor in RIFC. We now hold 10.71 per cent, making Club 1872 the second largest shareholder in RIFC.

“We are delighted that our members’ support for Club 1872 has brought us to a point where we can acquire these shares and complete the process of restoring control of RIFC to those who view the footballing success of Rangers FC as being just as important as RIFC’s careful stewardship financially.

Rangers chairman Dave King welcomed the move as creating a clean break for the Ibrox club.

He said: “This is the partnership I want to see lead Rangers forward.

“Rangers run by those who care for it most… a mature and structured organisation which can galvanise and represent our supporters and use their skills and talents to drive our club back to the top of Scottish and European Football.”

The Newcastle United owner’s decision came after Rangers and Sports Direct tore up their previous retail agreement, handing more control and revenue to Ibrox.

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