Rangers: Mike Ashley wants EGM and £5m loan paid back

Mike Ashley in the stand at Newcastle
Mike Ashley's Sports Direct controls Rangers' retail operation
By Chris McLaughlin, BBC Scotland

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has called on the Rangers board to hold an extraordinary meeting to pay back his £5m loan to the Glasgow club.

Ashley, who owns a 9% stake in Rangers, has also asked the board to explain why the club has been delisted from the AIM stock exchange.

If the loan is paid back, the club will regain security over their branding, the Murray Park training ground and the club's retail rights.

All are currently held by Ashley.

The move comes after the Sports Direct owner lost control of the Ibrox boardroom to South Africa-based businessman Dave King, who is awaiting Scottish FA approval to become the club's new chairman.

That followed an EGM called by King in March, when shareholders backed the former Rangers director and his allies.

Paul Murray, who was named interim chairman, was this month formally cleared by the SFA to become a director of the Scottish Championship club despite sitting on the board along with King in the years preceding Rangers' insolvency in 2012.

Police investigating takeovers at Rangers last week searched Sports Direct's Derbyshire headquarters.

Interim chairman at Rangers, Paul Murray
Paul Murray is interim chairman of Rangers after the takeover by Dave King's consortium

The company stressed that it related to "various persons previously employed by and or associated with Rangers" and was "not directed at Sports Direct or at any of its directors or employees".

In April, Rangers International Football Club plc was delisted from AIM - the Alternative Investment Market, a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange - when the club failed to appoint a nominated advisor to replace WH Ireland after the firm stood down from the role, an omission for which the club blamed the previous administration.

Derek Llambias, a former Newcastle managing director, took charge in December and appointed former Sports Direct executive Barry Leach as finance director.

An initial £2m loan from Ashley had given the Newcastle owner the right to appoint two directors to Rangers' board.

The Englishman agreed a further £10m loan in January to help keep the club solvent, although only £5m was made available immediately as working capital.

Sports Direct started its merchandising deal with the Glasgow club in 2012 following a takeover led by English businessman Charles Green, after which Rangers were accepted to play in the Scottish Third Division.