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Ashley makes ground at Rangers

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is tightening his grip on Rangers.  Financial consultant Philip Nash, one of the two directors he has been trying to remove, has resigned from the board with immediate effect.

This suggests that rescue plans from indviduals other than Mr Ashley are unlikely to succeed.  The offer of £16m for the club from former director Dave King looks set to fail because of opposition from Sandy Easdale who controls 26 per cent of the voting shares.

Mr Ashley is the third biggest shareholderof the club with control of neary 9 per cent of the shares.  He has been prepared to provide the club with a short-term loan, but has set conditons, including getting seats on the board.

The latest development is that the Rangers board have rejected a 11th hour offer from former Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy.   Instead they have accepted an offer tabled by Mr Ashley.   This involves an initial £2m loan and the option of a new share issue.   An official announcement is expected on Monday.

It is understood that, as part of the agreement, chief executive Graham Wallace will step down which has been one of Ashley's demands

As it stands, under Scottish FA agreements Ashley is not allowed boardroom influence or more than 10 per cent.    However, his possible underwriting of a share issue could take his stake above that threshold if there is not enough buy-in from other investors. An alternative option could be further loans. Either way, his grip on the club is tightening.