Rangers EGM vote on whether to repay £5m Mike Ashley loan

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
The front of Rangers' Ibrox Stadium
Shareholders visited Ibrox for Rangers' second EGM of 2015

Shareholders in Rangers have voted on two resolutions regarding commercial agreements with Sports Direct.

Results are expected on Monday after Friday's extraordinary general meeting at Ibrox.

Newcastle United owner and Rangers shareholder Mike Ashley asked for the EGM to force the club to pay back a £5m loan to his Sports Direct firm.

The Rangers board asked shareholders to back proposals to renegotiate the commercial deal with Sports Direct.

Rangers International Football Club directors Paul Murray, John Gilligan and James Blair addressed shareholders at the meeting, although MASH - Ashley's investment firm - did not respond to an invite to send a representative to answer shareholders' questions.

RIFC chairman Dave King also did not attend, as he was in London on "club business".

The Rangers directors revealed that, following a hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Thursday, they were each served with the terms of an injunction by sheriff officers at their homes that evening.

Mike Ashley
Newcastle owner Ashley owns 8.29% of Rangers

The interim injunction prevented the disclosure of confidential information about Sports Direct's retail agreement with the club, with a similar injunction being granted on the same day at the High Court in London.

Sports Direct currently own 75% of Rangers Retail - the joint commercial venture with the club - under the terms of the £5m loan, although this would revert to 49% once the loan is repaid.

"We can't comment why Sports Direct don't want customers to know commercial arrangements," Murray told the EGM. "Keeping fans in the dark is not something directors are comfortable with."

The Rangers board recommended shareholders reject Ashley's resolution, while MASH had also called for explanations over the decisions that led to RIFC being delisted from the Alternative Investment Market.

Murray revealed that directors had been in discussions with two nominated advisories (Nomad) - the companies that manage firms' listing on the stock exchange - after shareholders voted to replace the previous board in March.

Both Nomads eventually declined to represent RIFC and so the company was delisted by AIM and, according to Murray, is now seeking a listing on the ISDX exchange.

Rangers director Paul Murray
Rangers director Paul Murray arriving at Ibrox ahead of the EGM

Shareholders were provided the opportunity to ask questions, although on several occasions the directors had to decline to answer because of confidentiality.

One shareholder asked what the cost would be of listing RIFC on ISDX, with Murray replying: "[It] is cheaper than AIM, but with the same level of corporate governance."

Another asked whether it would be better to repay the £5m loan and thus free up the securities granted against it. Gilligan replied that was "not in the best interests of the business" and added: "We're asking for the trust of shareholders on this."

Directors also pointed out that the injunction granted at the Court of Session was on an interim basis, with the full hearing to be conducted at a later date.

"We planned to come to talk about some of these issues," Murray said. "Legal action was taken against us, corporately and privately. Sorry."

Murray re-iterated that the club hope to appoint a new manager early next week. One shareholder asked why former boss Ally McCoist is still being paid by the club while on gardening leave as he serves out his 12-month notice period.

"The company entered into a contract with the ex-manager," Gilligan said. "The company has an obligation. We're honouring the contract. We're doing the right thing. Unless he changes his mind, he will stay be on gardening leave until December."