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Dave King: Rangers' battle with Mike Ashley ongoing

Published 27/10/2015

Rangers chairman Dave King (File photo)
Rangers chairman Dave King (File photo)

Rangers chairman Dave King has revealed the club face on-going legal threats from Mike Ashley as their bitter civil war shows no sign of relenting.

The South Africa-based businessman has been locked in a fierce battle with the billionaire Sports Direct tycoon since he forced the former Ashley-backed board out of Ibrox back in March.

But Newcastle United owner Ashley has refused to back down, with his controversial retail deal - which soaks up 75 per cent of the club's merchandise profits - a continuing source of frustration for the Light Blues chief.

King held talks with Sports Direct bosses during the summer but failed to broker a peace agreement.

Then in June, Ashley used his nine per cent stake in the Glasgow giants to call an emergency general meeting and demand repayment of a £5million loan issued to the old Rangers board.

King refused to pay and responded by threatening to reveal the contents of the agreements stuck between former Gers chief executive Charles Green and Sports Direct following the club's liquidation meltdown - only for Ashley to successfully gag the Ibrox chairman after taking out injunctions in both Edinburgh and London.

Ashley's repayment motion was voted down in any case when the shareholder meeting was staged at Ibrox back in June.

But while the public skirmishes have died down since then, King has now revealed his board continues to face attacks from Ashley in the courtroom.

However, he insists he will not be bullied by the 318th richest man in the world.

In a statement issued to Press Association Sport, King said: "The gagging order prevents me from disclosing the details of our contractual relationship (but) it does not prevent me from updating supporters on the status of the general relationship with Sports Direct.

"Sports Direct continues to litigate with the club in an attempt to enforce its wishes and demands.

"This seems based on the simple logic that Sports Direct can outspend the club in legal fees and thereby deal with the club as it pleases.

"I assure supporters that the club will not be cowed by this threat and the recent lack of communication (as a result of the gagging order) belies the level of robustness with which the club's interest has been and will be protected."

Sports Direct hold a 49 per cent stake in Rangers Retail Ltd, a joint venture with the club set up to sell shirts and other merchandise.

But the terms of the £5million loan increase Ashley's share by a further 26 per cent until the money is handed back.

King, though, is determined to win a better deal for the Ladbrokes Championship outfit, saying: "I have sent letters to Sports Direct in my capacity as a director of Rangers Retail Limited taking them to task for poor business practices and corporate governance failures.

"The club believed that it was entering into a joint venture with a large public company that would behave as a partner should and would conduct its business affairs in an appropriate fashion.

"In my 40 years of business I cannot recollect having dealt with a public company that is run more like a wholly owned family business and appears unconcerned with other stakeholders - partners or otherwise.

"It remains my intention to ensure that Sports Direct is legally and financially held accountable for its failures."

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