FORMER Newcastle United and Rangers striker Peter Lovenkrands says Mike Ashley is just a “down to earth guy” who enjoys sharing a drink with his players.
The Danish frontman spent three years working under the billionaire Newcastle owner during his stint at St James’ Park.
But while Rangers fans remain highly suspicious of the Sports Direct tycoon and his plans for the Glasgow giants after buying up an 8.92 per cent stake, Lovenkrands’ insight painted a much more positive picture.
The 34-year-old – who twice lifted the SPL title during his Rangers days – said: “He was a great guy. I got on really well with him. He was one of those chairmen who came to socialise with the players.
“We had a really good time with him at Newcastle. He came to all the dos after the season finished and would have a drink with the boys.
“He was great and very open with him like that. I had a good time with him that way.
“I had four great years with him at Newcastle and a lot of that was down to the way he was running the club.
“I think he loves football. He’s just a down-to-earth guy. When the wives would turn up for nights out he would sit down and have a drink and a joke. You don’t get that from many chairmen.
“He and (Rangers chief executive Derek) Llambias are both like that. They have run a big club like Newcastle for a few years now and they have not done a bad job, have they?”
The Newcastle support might beg to differ with Lovenkrands’ assessment and there seems to be few amongst the Light Blues faithful willing to speak so enthusiastically about Ashley’s Ibrox involvement.
He has already been charged by the Scottish Football Association with breaching duel ownership rules after giving the club a £3m emergency loan late last year and has been blocked by Hampden chiefs from increasing his stake to almost 30 per cent.
The club remain dangerously short of cash and Ashley must now decide if he will bail the club out or loosen his grasp and allow the Three Bears – Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor – to hand Rangers a £6.5m rescue rope.
“It’s not for me to sit and talk about what he’s got planned here,” said Lovenkrands when asked if the Rangers support should be worried by Ashley’s moves. “I don’t know what Mike Ashley does. I’m a player – I don’t speak about what his plans are for clubs, even when I was at Newcastle.
“That’s something the board will have to deal with here.
“There’s been a lot going on at the club and is still going on. But everybody wants the club to get back to where it was when I was here.
“I just hope they can get everything sorted.”