The rebels thought they had won, they popped the champagne corks, took the cocktail weenies out of the oven, put the party tunes on and were about to nibble on the cheese and pickled onion hedgehogs – when news broke that Mike Ashley had played his trump card. It must have near choked some of the rebels as they munched on their weenies.
Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Ashley had been found guilty of breaching the Scottish FA rules on dual ownership and fined him £7500, but failed to announce what the Englishman had to do to escape further censure and Rangers as a club also.
Despite that fine, Ashley showed the Scottish FA what he really thought of their punishment by opening his wallet and handed over a further £5 million to the current Ibrox regime – the second tranche of the £10 million loan deal that was announced back in January.
A statement to the London Stock Exchange, read: “The Board of Rangers announces that the Company has commenced the process of satisfying the conditions for drawdown of the second tranche of the facility announced on 27 January 2015 with SportsDirect.com Retail Limited and associated companies (“SD”) (the “Facility”) in order to meet its cash requirements for the third week of March.
“Drawdown of the second tranche of the Facility is subject to due diligence by SD. Shareholders should be aware that there are other conditions of drawdown which include a material and adverse change and/or significant, adverse event condition which could impact upon the willingness of SD to release the funds. If the funds are not able to be drawn down from the Facility, alternative sources of external funding will be required.”
Earlier in the day it had looked as though Derek Llambias and Barry Leach were heading out of the door at Ibrox with Dave King calling for them to resign so that the EGM could be cancelled – despite knowing that it still had to be held.
The allies of Mike Ashley refused to resign and demanded a pay-off, which King looks to have rejected, but with Ashley playing his trump card it seems that the Newcastle United owner has secured their seats on the board as part of the loan agreement. If King then decides to sack them before paying off the loan owed to the Englishman then he is in breach of contract and Ashley could then snap up those assets secured against the loan.
While it is inevitable that King will win the day at the EGM, the war that so many in the Rangers support and journalists thought was over looks to have just been reignited.
The rebels may have just popped their corks somewhat prematurely.