The Scottish Football Association may have temporarily thwarted reclusive billionaire Mike Ashley’s attempts to takeover Glasgow Rangers in December last year, but it didn’t stop the sports apparel tycoon from taking control of the club in January.
In what fans have called a “backdoor takeover,” Ashley installed a number of right-hand men to the Rangers’ board, took over the security at the club’s Murray Park training ground at Auchenhowie, and sought to disband an influential internal club panel that represented the fans. In other words, while he doesn’t technically contol the club, he acts like he does.
Considering Ashley is the world’s 306th richest man, with a personal wealth estimated to be around £3.3billion, a £7,500 fine is unlikely to make a dent in his pocket.
The SFA said he breached its rules on dual ownership because of the level of influence and power he has wielded over the structure and governance of the troubled football club. While the SFA also charged Ashley with the failure to “act in the best interests of association football”, the alleged breach was “not proved.”
Ashley, the owner of the £4 billion Sports Direct retail empire and football club Newcastle United, injected £10 million into financially troubled Rangers in January this year.
He personally owns 4% of Rangers but combined with the extra 5% he bought through his MASH holdings company, he is now the second-largest shareholder in the group.
In December 2014, his quest to boost his stake to around 30% of the club was prevented by the SFA. It cited a “conflict of interest” with his Newcastle ownership (the two clubs compete for player contracts and could in theory face each other in European competition).
However, his loans to Rangers actually gives him a lot of control, including appointing directors and bosses to the beleaguered football club. This is something the fans hate. They believe he doesn’t really care about the club, and that he’s only there to make money from a distressed asset.
Two of Ashley’s closest allies on the board, James Easdale and Derek Somners, left the board over the last two weeks.
Now all eyes turn to Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, Ashley’s remaining friends on the board. Llambias was the managing director of Newcastle United until his appointment as CEO of Rangers in December. Leach is the head of brands at Sports Direct as well as Rangers’ finance director now.
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.