Football Trade Directory

Sports Direct boss and Newcastle United chairman Mike Ashley sells Rangers shares

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has sold his remaining shareholding in Rangers International Football Club Plc. Ashley, who is Chairman of Premier League side Newcastle United has been at odds with Rangers board for some time.

Ibrox fans' group Club 1872 has bought half of Ashley's shares - 4.46% - for £1m from Ashley's company, MASH Holdings Limited, taking its holding to 10.71%.

The supporters' organisation says it is "a significant marker in our progress as a shareholder/­investor".

Rangers chairman Dave King has announced further investment of £1m by 44-year-old Julian Wolhardt.

The chief executive officer of Dehong Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Hong Kong, has purchased the remainder from MASH Holdings Limited, who bought an 8.9% stake in RIFC when the company was floated by former chief executive Charles Green in 2012.

Earlier this week, Rangers announced a new £5m-a-year commercial deal with Ashley's company Sports Direct "on terms substantially different from the terminated agreements".

A Club 1872 statement said:

 "We are delighted that our members' support for Club 1872 has brought us to a point where we can acquire these shares and complete the process of restoring control of RIFC to those who view the footballing success of Rangers FC as being just as important as RIFC's careful stewardship financially.

"Club 1872 allows Rangers supporters to help safeguard the future of our club. Taking our shareholding above 10% puts us well on our way to that goal."

Earlier this week, chairman Dave King said the new deal with Sports Direct was "a fresh start" for the Rangers Megastore, the Rangers Webstore and the sale of merchandise throughout Sports Direct's stores

The fans' group did not state the value of its investment in RIFC but King, on the Rangers website, said that Wolhardt and Club 1872 had "each made a £1m investment in shares".

The chairman said the purchase "marks a significant milestone for Rangers and follows completion of the renegotiation of the club's retail deals earlier this week".

Investor Wolhardt spoke of his "long held love for Scotland and football" and said he was "keen to see Rangers FC unlock its considerable commercial potential".

He added: "With the successful restructuring of the retail operations, RIFC is now on a firm financial footing and I look forward to being a part of its exciting future."


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