Secretive billionaire Mike Ashley just released an immensely long statement about how the financially troubled football club Rangers HAS to return his £5 million ($US7.9 million) loan right now.
Last month Ashley asked Rangers to return a £5 million ($US7.9 million) loan but apparently the club’s board was not budging.
Chairman Dave King said to the Daily Record recently said: “The Ashley loan situation is something we’re looking at but it’s part of a bigger and broader relationship. My personal view is the Sports Direct-Ashley relationship is an integrated, holistic relationship so I don’t think it’s just about the loan.”
King was referring to the fact that Rangers is locked into a relationship with Mike Ashley’s £4 billion ($US6.1 billion) Sports Direct company for at least seven more years.
King and his board said in May that by pulling out of the agreement with Sports Direct for it to provide retail merchandise for the football club, it would only trigger a seven year notice period and not sever the deal immediately.
So it looks like Ashley thought the best way to get his point across was giving an incredibly long statement with context to why he wants his money back.
You can read the full statement here but here are some of the highlights:
- Ashley’s Mash Holdings company “was surprised and concerned as to the speed with which, following the general meeting held on 6 March 2015, Rangers Plc was delisted” from Britain’s mid-cap market AIM.
- Ashley defends his Sports Direct deal with Rangers over its merchandise. He said “at the relevant time, it would not have made commercial sense for Rangers to finance its own retail operation.”
- Ashley points out that prior to Rangers entering into the Sports Direct retailing joint venture, Rangers had a 10 year deal with JJB Sports as its retail partner. Ashley’s Sports Direct took ownership of JJB Sports in 2012.
- Ashley said: “It should not be forgotten that at the end of the day, Sports Direct is not a bank, it is a supportive business partner and it entered into £10 million loan facility with RFC on the basis of providing much needed financial support at the relevant time.”
The messy fight between Ashley and Rangers
Ashley owns the £4 billion ($US6.1 billion) Sports Direct clothing empire, has a net worth of £3.5 billion ($US5.5 billion) and even owns Newcastle United football club.
In January, Ashley loaned Rangers £10 million ($US15.1 million) as a short term facility because the club is so cash-poor. Out of that lump sum, he used £5 million ($US7.9 million) to pay back his own companies from an earlier £3 million ($US4.7 million) loan he gave to Rangers. The remainder was used as working capital in January so the club could stay afloat.
Ashley did this because of his stake in the club and because, at the time, he had a lot more control over the running of the club after he installed long term and loyal business partners into top positions at Rangers.
Ashley owns 9% of Rangers (4% personally and 5% through his MASH holdings company), making him the second-largest shareholder in the Rangers group. He also owns 75% in Rangers Retail.
However, the crew he installed in Rangers was ousted in March by investor David King, who has the largest stake in Rangers, at 14.5%.
King and the rest of the club then announced that they had referred a number of these executives to the police to investigate how £70 million ($US106 million) was spent over the past four years under British billionaire Mike Ashley and former owner Craig Whyte.
Since then, the Rangers delisted on the stock exchange and