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Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley told to pay legal costs of SFA and Rangers boss

By Paul Ward

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has been ordered to cover the legal costs of Rangers chairman Dave King and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) after abandoning a legal action.

Mr Ashley's company Mash Holdings dropped its application to force a court review of the SFA's decision to declare Mr King a "fit and proper'' person to hold the position of Rangers director at a Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh in April.

The firm said it would not have raised proceedings had the SFA given certain information.

Legal arguments followed between the SFA, Mash Holdings and Rangers on the issue of legal costs, and Lord Bannatyne issued a written decision on Thursday ruling that Mash, as petitioner, was liable. The written judgment said: "On the primary issue argued before me regarding the awarding of expenses, I am clearly of the view that the petitioners' argument should be rejected.

"I am persuaded that there is no proper basis for not following the normal rule that expenses should follow success. Where a party seeks on the morning of a first hearing to have the action dismissed, then that party in my opinion must be held to have been unsuccessful."

The judge added: "The only matter I can be properly satisfied about is this - the petitioners have abandoned their action and therefore the respondent and interested party have been successful. For the above reasons, I find the petitioners liable to the respondent and interested party in the expenses of the petition and proceedings."

The SFA cleared Mr King to sit on the Rangers board in May last year after "unprecedented due diligence'', which involved scrutiny over his involvement as a director in the lead-up to Rangers' liquidation in 2012.

In March 2015, Mr King led a group to take over from the previous Rangers regime which had close ties to Sports Direct chief Mr Ashley, who has a 9% stake in the Ibrox club.

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