Newcastle owner Mike Ashley launches legal battle in bid to oust Rangers chairman

Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is continuing his dispute with the Rangers board by taking the Scottish Football Association to court.

Ashley has called for a judicial review of the SFA's decision to pass Rangers chairman Dave King "fit and proper" to take up his role at Ibrox.

Court officials have confirmed that a hearing will take place at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on February 4.

Rangers shareholder Ashley had earlier prompted legal action against King and Rangers over allegations they breached an injunction on revealing details of the club's commercial relationship with his Sports Direct company. That case will be heard in the High Court in London on December 9-11.

Ashley previously had control of the Rangers boardroom, but it was seized from his grasp on March 6 when King and his allies swept to power following a shareholder vote.

But King has not been able to shake off Ashley and Sports Direct. The sportswear firm is owed £5million by Rangers, and King has resisted attempts to make the club repay the debt - which included a general meeting - as the two sides continue to argue over the retail contract, which fans have heavily criticised for offering little income for the club.

The latest tactic sees Ashley focus on the SFA's decision to pass King for office in May.

The Glasgow-born businessman, who has a 15 per cent stake, had faced a major challenge to persuade the SFA on two counts – he was on the Ibrox board in the period leading up to the administration and liquidation of oldco Rangers and was convicted of 41 tax offences in South Africa in 2013.

But he was passed fit after a lengthy investigation into his background.

An SFA statement at the time read: "In considering the request, the board of the Scottish FA has sought and received specialist independent legal advice, both in Scotland and South Africa, in respect of Mr King's conviction further to the South African Income Tax Act and in relation to his previous involvement as a director of the club.

"It has also received significant documentation from relevant authorities both within the UK and South Africa.

"The scale of this due diligence is unprecedented but befitting the complexities of the consideration placed before the board. During this exercise both Mr King and the club were fully co-operative and responded to all questions put to them by the Scottish FA."

Two days after the decision, King declared that the Rangers board's relationship with Ashley and Sports Direct was "not great" but "not terrible", adding "on a scale of one to 100, (Ashley) doesn't get up to one in terms of a threat".

However, Ashley appears to be going down every route possible in an attempt to undermine that assertion.

Billionaire Ashley – who has a nine per cent stake in Rangers – has previously clashed with the SFA, being fined £7,500 in March for breaching dual ownership rules.

A statement from Scotland's governing body read: "The Scottish FA can confirm we have received a petition for judicial review and will be defending it. We will make no further comment at this stage."