Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Rangers hopeful Newcastle owner Ashley will invest

Mike Ashley

Rangers chief executive Charles Green is hopeful Mike Ashley will become one of three billionaire investors in newco Rangers.

Reports have suggested Newcastle owner Ashley is interested in buying a stake in the Irn-Bru Third Division Club along with two other significant investors.

And when asked whether the Sports Direct magnate will invest in the club, Green told Sky Sports News: "Hopefully, yes."

However, Green refused to reveal who the other potential investors were, adding: "Talks are ongoing at the minute so it would be premature to name them."

Ashley could be a welcome presence at Ibrox despite dividing opinion at St James' Park, although Green admitted he does not expect the businessman to plough untold amounts of money into the club should he decide to invest.

"I don't think Mike needs to throw (money into the club) and that's not the model that I think is sustainable for any football club and not Rangers," Green said.

"What Mike will do, subject to all the agreements going through, is bring the might of Sports Direct and that in itself, in my mind, will bring £5-10million a year from merchandise in revenues back into the club.

"That is far, far more worthwhile than Mike individually signing a cheque because that's not the right way to run football clubs.

"It's about sustainability, it's about continuing revenues, it's about brand awareness and it's about developing the brand and doing it worldwide."

Representatives of Ashley refused comment on the matter.

After his takeover at Newcastle in 2007, Ashley was an initially popular presence on Tyneside as he watched matches from the stands with the club's supporters and wore the team's shirt.

However, he was blamed for Kevin Keegan resigning his post and his decision not to re-install Alan Shearer as his successor after the former Toon striker had overseen the side's relegation from the Premier League was derided.

Ashley put the club up for sale in September 2008, saying in a statement: "I'm now a dad who can't take his kids to a football game because I am advised that we would be assaulted. I am no longer prepared to subsidise Newcastle."

However, he took it off the market the following year after failing to find a buyer.

His decision to replace Chris Hughton, who had let Newcastle back into the top flight at the first attempt, with Alan Pardew was another unpopular decision, but the former West Ham and Charlton boss has proved to be a roaring success, while the decision to change the name of the stadium from St James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena for commercial purposes was also frowned upon.

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