Mike Ashley tightens grip on Rangers with £10m loan

Rangers rejected an alternative loan proposal from a group of shareholders known as the 'Three Bears'

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The Independent Online

Mike Ashley has extended a £10m lifeline to Rangers Football Club but in return tightened his grip on the Scottish championship side’s assets.

Mr Ashley, who owns 8.9 per cent of Rangers shares but has been barred from increasing his holding by the Scottish FA, has agreed two interest-free loans to the club of £5m each from Sports Direct. These will replace his existing £3m loan to the club.

In return, Rangers will transfer a further 26 per cent of its retail business to Sports Direct, whose holding for the duration of the loan will increase to 75 per cent. The loan will be secured against the club’s training ground and various other properties, but not Ibrox Stadium.

Rangers rejected an alternative loan proposal from a group of shareholders known as the “Three Bears”, saying that Mr Ashley’s offer was “the optimum combination of quantum and duration of funding, allowing the club time to arrange permanent capital which can be used to strengthen the playing squad”.

The news came as a Scottish FA judicial committee was due yesterday to discuss whether Mr Ashley has breached rules because of his ownership of Newcastle United as well as his stake in the Scottish side. However, the full hearing was adjourned. 

Rangers have also agreed that shirt-sponsorship money from the 2017/18 season will benefit the retail business, giving Mr Ashley the lion’s share. David Sommers, the club’s chairman, called on all Rangers shareholders to back the plan.

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