Financially crippled football club Rangers has launched an investigation into how £70 million ($US106 million) was spent over the past four years under British billionaire Mike Ashley and former owner Craig Whyte.
Only 24 hours after the announcement, Rangers said in a statement to Scottish TV channel STV Sport that it has also suspended Ashley’s right hand men
Derek Llambias, Barry Leach and Sandy Easdale “pending investigation,” while the football club looks where all the money has gone to.
Here is the full statement:
“Rangers Football Club announce today that Derek Llambias, Barry Leach and Sandy Easdale have been suspended from their duties pending an investigation.
“It is also noted that Mr Llambias and Mr Leach, along with Sandy Easdale, have been advised that a resolution to remove them as directors of the company has been received by the company.
“A meeting may be required for this purpose but it is hoped that this will not prove necessary.
“Acting chairman Paul Murray, fellow directors Douglas Park and John Gilligan, and the club’s head of football administration Andrew Dickson have been appointed to the board of the company.”
Ashley’s representatives did not reply with a comment to Business Insider by the time of publication.
On March 6, at the Extraordinary General Meeting at Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium, major shareholder David King, with a 14.5% stake, seized control of the football club by winning an 85% majority of votes.
He also managed to replace Ashley’s right hand men, Llambias and Leach, with Paul Murray and John Gilligan. James Easdale (Sandy Easdale’s brother) and Somners left a week before the EGM.
Only 24 hours ago, new director Douglas Park said the club would do a rigorous investigation to what happened at Rangers under the influence of “people who should have never been allowed near Rangers.“
In 2011, Dave Murray sold his 85.3% stake in Rangers to Craig Whyte for just £1.
When Rangers filed for administration in February 2012, Britain’s taxman, the HMRC, said there were £9 million in unpaid taxes. Since then, police charged Whyte with fraud for allegedly pretending to Murray that he had the cash to fund his stake in the club.
Meanwhile Ashley, who personally owns 4% of Rangers and an extra 5% he bought through his MASH holdings company, became the second-largest shareholder in the group. While he was stopped by the Scottish Football Association, which cited a “conflict of interest,” for increasing his stake to 30% in December last year, his loans to the club gave him greater control over Rangers.
Out of £10 million he loaned the club in January this year, £5 million was used to pay himself back from an earlier £3 million loan. He also installed trusted business partners Llambias, Leach, the Easdale brothers and Derek Somners to the board.
He controlled merchandising and, according to Park, allegedly received “advantageous deals.” He also managed to buy the naming rights to Rangers’ Ibrox stadium for only £1.
Scottish MPs hoped to question Ashley over this, and a variety of other employment issues related to his £4 billion Sports Direct empire, before parliament dissolves in time for the May general election.
While Rangers will report its 2014 financial results later this year, its latest full year figures showed it owed its parent company Rangers International Football Club Plc (RIFC) £16.16 million.
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