Mike Ashley/Rangers: The Pros & Cons


So today Rangers confirmed to the London stock exchange that they had accepted a loan from Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. The offer was seen as more favourable than Brian Kennedy’s last minute offer and it remains to be seen if anything will happen with Dave King’s long term offer of investment, which King says is still on the table.

In my opinion Ashley’s deal has scuppered any King involvement, as I believe Ashley has made a bid for ultimate control at Ibrox. That seems evident now Graham Wallace and Philip Nash have been ousted and Mike Ashley has permission to replace them with his own men, as per the loan agreement. Former Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has been heavily tipped for one of the roles.

Now whether or not Ashley can actually become the new Rangers owner is up for debate. It’s a topic that is full of pitfalls and I am glad to point you in the direction of STV Sport as Grant Russell has done a fantastic job looking into the facts about whether or not Ashley can own both Rangers and Newcastle.

But be in no doubt, Ashley’s spectre now looms large over Ibrox and he’ll have a huge say on what happens now with the Glasgow outfit.

With that in mind, I thought I’d look at the pros and cons for Rangers with Ashley involved.

Now its funny because for many of the supporters some of the pros will also be seen as cons.

For example, a link up with Newcastle Utd could be both a pro and a con.

Rangers could get talented youngsters up on loan and get good deals on fringe players who have English Premier League experience. Rangers would also benefit from Newcastle’s contacts and scouting system. At the moment Murray Park is void of any scouting team capable of using any sort of imagination.

But then if Rangers bring through an exciting talent or buy a player who goes beyond their potential and these stars attract interest from bigger European or English sides. I’d imagine Newcastle would get an option on these players on cheaper prices. They would then sell them on a year or two later for a huge profit! Rangers could then become a feeder club for the English side.

As Rangers board member Sandy Easdale says “Mike’s a very wealthy individual“. He can certainly help Rangers out as they need finances now just to survive till the end of the season without threat of administration. But will he spend to keep the fans happy? Nope. It’s another pro and con. Ashley will bring financial stability but won’t go beyond that. In a way it would actually benefit Rangers to be run without being over the top with ambitions.

A pro could actually be Ashley’s goals and ambitions for Rangers as they would differ from Newcastle. At St James Park the yearly aim seems to be that they survive in EPL and keep that huge TV revenue coming in. Mike won’t pay over the odds to challenge for a ‘Top Four’ finish as its an extremely costly exercise and even after a huge spend you’re not guaranteed getting that Champions League spot as Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool will also spend big in a bid for those same places. The Toon management will often see the cup competitions as a distraction from league survival and so they don’t really try and win anything. Understandably that infuriates the Newcastle fan base.

In Scotland, the aim for an ‘Ashley Rangers’ would have to be Champions League football, thus challenging Celtic for the league championship. Getting into Europe’s elite competition is the main way for the Old Firm sides to make decent money. To assemble a squad able to challenge Celtic for that Champions League spot would be easier and cheaper for Ashley, than it would be to get Newcastle into the Champions League.

The Rangers fans would obviously prefer a man with an affinity for the club. Ashley will manage things from afar and really won’t do anything that hampers his own business ideas and goals. That can easily infuriate the Gers support as it has in Tyneside. Fans want to have dialogue with the people running the club and that probably won’t happen at Ibrox.

Any lucrative deals on offer through club merchandise, advertising and even naming rights to Ibrox will probably go into Mike’s pocket first before he lets Rangers have what they need to get by. He already owns the stadium naming rights, buying them for just £1 from former chief executive Charles Green! Ashley’s company Sports Direct also have the rights to sell the Rangers merchandise in their stores. With Ashley’s power grab almost complete its hard to think of Ibrox without Sports Direct advertising boards encasing the stadium and for a cheap price (especially if Gers are back in top tier), if not for free (Just like at St James Park). Its well known Sports Direct love the exposure they get from their association with Newcastle Utd. But surely this sort of cosy deal could be counter productive for Rangers.

Rangers have been a PR disaster in the past few years and to be honest that probably won’t be enhanced with Ashley involved. During his tenure in charge of the ‘Magpies’ has been full of PR blunders; sacking fan favourite Kevin Keegan, dealing with Wonga, arguing with fans and banning the local press being just a few of the clubs PR problems. If Rangers are to progress, then they need to be transparent and in contact with the fans.

Will that happen with Ashley and his hired board? I seriously doubt it.

All in all, Rangers are in a better position than they were in yesterday. The business needed investment and Ashley can provide that. He should also be able to bring stability to the club. That might not be enough to entice the Gers support, who will look on with worry.

Ibrox may now become void of too much ambition but look what happened when Sir David Murray chased the dream! Ashley’s regime may bring in a boring and bitter era. Can the fans back such a regime? Only time will tell, but I am inclined to think not. So the civil war will continue.


One Response to “Mike Ashley/Rangers: The Pros & Cons”

  1. Hopefully Wallace will spill the beans on who are the unknown shareholders

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