Rangers: Mike Ashley's premises searched in police investigation

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Sport Scotland
Ibrox Stadium. home of Rangers FC
Police have been investigating Craig Whyte's Rangers takeover for two years

Police investigating takeovers at Rangers have searched the headquarters of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct company in Derbyshire.

The Newcastle owner has a stake of almost 9% in the Ibrox club and has control of their retail operations.

Sports Direct says the visit relates to "various persons previously employed by and or associated with Rangers".

Its statement added: "The investigation is not directed at Sports Direct or at any of its directors or employees."

Sports Direct also stated that "the police were seeking documentation which might assist the investigation. Sports Direct has co-operated fully and will continue to co-operate in the provision of information that the police request."

Police Scotland confirmed the visit but would not comment further.

Sports Direct started its merchandising deal with the Glasgow club in 2012, while Ashley acquired the naming rights to Ibrox Stadium and became a shareholder in the same year.

That followed the takeover from Charles Green's consortium after which Rangers were accepted to play in the Scottish Third Division.

Previous owner Craig Whyte was arrested with four others last year in the ongoing police investigation into his 2011 takeover.

Whyte bought Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 and gave an undertaking to settle the club's £18m bank debt.

It later emerged he paid the debt by selling three years of season tickets to finance firm Ticketus for £25m.

Rangers entered administration in February 2012, while under Whyte's control, over non-payment of around £14m in tax.

HMRC subsequently rejected a creditors agreement which would have allowed Rangers to exit administration.

The administration and subsequent liquidation of Rangers resulted in Whyte's deal with Ticketus being declared void and the finance firm successfully sued him for £18m over the failed deal.

Whyte has also been banned from being a company director for the maximum period of 15 years.