MIKE ASHLEY has appeared to score a victory in the battle for control at Rangers after Sports Direct executive Barry Leach was appointed finance director at the Ibrox club.
Leach, who is head of brands at Ashley’s sportswear firm and has been acting as a consultant at Rangers since October, was named as finance chief on the same day that Sandy Easdale, a Rangers director, loaned the club £500,000 to provide short term working capital.
He joins another Ashley associate, former Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias, on the Rangers board. The appointment appears to bolster Ashley’s influence at Rangers after the Scottish Football Association blocked him increasing his stake in Rangers International Football Club to 29.9%.
Ashley, who currently owns 8.29% of the voting rights of Rangers and himself loaned the club £2m late last year, has struggled for effective control at the club. In October, Graham Wallace resigned as Rangers’ chief executive days after chief financial officer and key boardroom ally Phillip Nash quit the club. The Newcastle owner had previously called for the Wallace and Nash to leave the club.
Today, it emerged that Rangers board has rejected a possible £18m takeover bid by American businessman Robert Sarver. The offer put forward by Sarver, who owns a majority stake in the Phoenix Suns National Basketball Association franchise, involved buying 100 million shares at 18p per share – below the current share price of 26p.
“While the directors welcome Mr Sarver’s approach, they believe that, notwithstanding the current financial difficulties, the proposal does not adequately value a controlling interest in the company and accordingly the resolution to approve the placing is unlikely to achieve the 75% majority required,” Rangers said.
Rangers entered administration in February 2012 before going into liquidation later that year. The club later resurfaced in the Scottish Third Division, now known as Scottish League Two.
In November, three employees from Duff & Phelps and one employee from Collyer Bristow were arrested in relation to the sale of Rangers. Paul Clark, David Whitehouse and David Grier from Duff & Phelps, and Gary Withey, a solicitor who worked for Collyer Bristow, were detained during dawn raids across the UK and were later arrested.
The four men appeared in court charged with fraudulent activity following an investigation into the alleged fraudulent acquisition of Rangers FC in 2011. All four made no plea or declaration at Glasgow Sheriff Court and were granted bail ahead of a future hearing.
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