Mike Ashley has certainly played a blinder when it has come to Rangers Football Club™. Not only has he secured a 75% share of Rangers Retail, as well as a significant proportion of advertising around Ibrox Park – he has now secured Rangers’ ‘most valuable asset’ its branding.
In 2003, Rangers’ brand protection manager, Alistair Campbell wrote to The Scotsman. He said: “Regarding your article (“Football clubs risk own goal from trademark oversight”, November 2) concerning the risk to clubs who have no trademarks. Rangers have been aware of the importance of trademarks and have registrations going back to the late 1960s.
“We currently have, arguably, the most active brand protection in football and constantly review our portfolio to see if we have adequate protection not just in the UK but in numerous countries throughout the world including the EU, China, Thailand and others.
“As you say, the intellectual property of a football club is perhaps its most valuable asset and since embarking on our brand protection programme four years ago the turnover of our shops has risen from under 4m to over 20m.”
But now Rangers’ most valuable asset is owned by Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited aka Mike Ashley.
It means anyone buying anything with a Rangers badge on it is handing their cash over to Mike Ashley and that he can use the club’s badge to flog anything and the new board cannot do anything about it until they clear the debt owed to the Newcastle United owner.
This is not a new issue though, as it was well-documented that security over the club badges would be handed to Ashley in return for another emergency loan.
However, it seems that the Intellectual Property Office website revealed that the transfer of ownership was completed after Dave King and Paul Murray succeeded in ousting the previous regime.
And now an internal investigation is under way to get down to the bottom of the transfer.
From the Rangers crest to the mascot Broxi Bear, Ashley now owns the rights to it and even Follow Follow is now owned by the Burnham-born kingpin. I wonder how long it will take for the United owner to call his attack dogs on Mark Dingwall and his Follow Follow website over the use or ‘misuse’ of his trademark?
However, all is not lost for Rangers Football Club™ as the new board just need to pay back the money owed to Mike Ashley to automatically see total control of their brand identity automatically returned to them.
So all it needs is Dave King and Paul Murray to dip into their pockets to pay back the £5 million owed to Ashley – although by the looks of some press reports they seem to be trying to find a way of reneging on the deal signed with the United owner so that they secure control of their valuable assets once more without the need to fork out any money to Ashley.