Assuming Dave King has more than 50% of the shareholding in newco Rangers, what does Mike Ashley do knowing he will not be in charge of the club after an EGM in March?
Take the defeat on one of his chins, let King’s lawyers loose on the merchandising and other deals he’s paid for and put the whole thing down to experience?
Well, possibly, but he has other options.
Ashley has yet to loan the club the money required to pay this month’s wages. He could simply not transfer the cash, but in this event he will expect King to step in.
King with his accomplices, and others, have recently offered to loan the club money, albeit with strings attached. If King truly has the enough votes in the bag to secure a majority, it’s likely they will loan the club enough cash to get beyond the EMG, without conditions attached. The directors would have no option but to accept this cash, pay the bills and cede control in due course. Ashley is owed £3m, repayable in April, for loans made late last year, so King et al will need to find cash to cover that in their ‘warchest’.
This is likely to be close to King’s narrative. He will not have called the EGM unless the cash is available to get the club over the line this season. I’m not prepared to countenance the possibility that he’s called it certain in the knowledge he will fall short.
I’ve always thought some kind of Grand Coalition, between Ashley and a collection of local legitimate businessmen would be the most effective forward plan, but Ashley has been so maligned by PR ‘close to King’ that this doesn’t seem to happening. Ashley will either have to take his chance of retaining merchandising, stadium advertising and future shirt sponsorship rights, or make his play now.
It’s worth noting that the reign of the Easdales, and chairman Somers, will end in the event King gains control; they are a busted flush unless they can manoeuver Ashley into an unassailable position.
So will Ashley pack his trunk and run away to join another circus? Don’t bet on it. Between now and the morning of the EGM, instead of loaning an already highly-levereged club, he could buy and leaseback its properties. This would give him enough leverage to look after his medium-term commercial interests, and exercise complete control in the long-term.
None of this even needs to happen under the current board. He can loan the club the £10m as expected, with covenants which are, to say the least, difficult to achieve. The cost of failure to meet one of these covenants would allow the Ashley to call-in his securities (the stadium).
Ashley can afford to lose all the cash he’s invested already, and all the his newco-related commercial contracts, but he cannot and will not lose his reputation as an uncompromising operator. Last week I said ‘Never play poker with a billionaire’. Whether you are a shopping centre owner, a sports goods giant, or an aspiring football club owner. These idiots should know thier opponent.
Tickets are now on sale for CQN11, our St Patrick’s Day dinner event on Friday 13 March at the Kerrydale Suite, Celtic Park. We’re hoping to raise money for Mary’s Meals to build a kitchen at Chibwata Primary School for their 909 pupils. As well as the dinner there will be singers and dancing, it’ll be a great night.
Email me if you want tickets reserved, firstname.lastname@example.org , or you can book tickets or tables directly at the bottom of this page.