Rangers probe Mike Ashley control over Ibrox club badges

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley is a Rangers shareholder and owner of Newcastle United

Rangers say they are investigating claims that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has taken control of the Scottish Championship club's badges.

It follows social media reports that the Rangers shareholder now owns trademarks such as the "Ready" badge and the Broxi Bear mascot.

"The board is currently conducting a review of all contractual documentation," said a club statement.

"But this particular issue has become a matter of urgency."

Ashley's Sports Direct company runs Rangers' retail operation and the Englishman had been given security over the icons and logos as part of the £5m loan handed to the previous board in January.

But now Scottish businessman Dave King's new regime has promised a speedy investigation after documents appeared on the government-run Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website showing the club's trademarks were now controlled by SportsDirect.com Retail Ltd.

Rangers mascot Broxi Bear
Ownership of Rangers mascot Broxi Bear is under investigation

Ashley already benefits from a 75% share of the club's retail income with his loan deal.

The IPO site confirms the transfer from Rangers Football Club Ltd to Sports Direct was fully assigned on 25 March.

That was less than three weeks after former chief executive and Ashley ally Derek Llambias and finance director Barry Leach, a former Sports Direct executive, were removed at a general meeting called by King.

Interim chairman Paul Murray announced two days later that the new board had held "no discussions with Mike Ashley or Sports Direct".

Rangers announced last week that, if they gain promotion to the Premiership, they will have to pay Newcastle £500,000 as part of the deal that led to five Magpies players move to Ibrox on loan in January.

Only midfielder Haris Vuckic has so far become a first-team regular in Scotland's second tier.