Rangers chairman Dave King has vowed to stand up to Mike Ashley after revealing the extent of the ongoing threat of legal action the club faces from Sports Direct.
King has released a forthright statement detailing the strained relationship between the Ibrox club and Ashley, including accusing him of running Sports Direct like a family business, rather than a blue chip plc, and insists he will hold them accountable on behalf of Rangers fans.
Rangers are tied to what they believe is an onerous retail contract, and King has refused to pay back £5million in emergency funding provided by Ashley earlier this year because he believes the agreements in place could be subject to legal challenge.
Sports Direct took out injunctions in June against the directors of Rangers to prevent them publicly discussing details of the contracts between the parties.
But King insists he won’t be browbeaten by the Newcastle United owner.
In a statement, he said: “Supporters have requested an update on the Club’s relationship with Sports Direct which is one of the key issues that I promised to deal with prior to, and after, being elected to the board of Rangers International Football Club.
“It is widely known that Sports Direct applied to court for an injunction to prevent myself and my fellow directors from disclosing certain details of the agreements between the Club and the Sports Direct group, including the existence or detail of any meetings between the parties.
“The gagging order prevents me from disclosing the details of our contractual relationship it does not prevent me from updating supporters on the status of the general relationship with Sports Direct.
“Sports Direct continues to litigate with the Club in an attempt to enforce its wishes and demands. This seems based on the simple logic that Sports Direct can outspend the Club in legal fees and thereby deal with the Club as it pleases. I assure supporters that the Club will not be cowed by this threat and the recent lack of communication (as a result of the gagging order) belies the level of robustness with which the Club’s interest has been and will be protected.
“Furthermore, I have sent letters to Sports Direct in my capacity as a director of Rangers Retail Limited taking them to task for poor business practices and corporate governance failures. The Club believed that it was entering into a joint venture with a large public company that would behave as a partner should and would conduct its business affairs in an appropriate fashion.
“In my 40 years of business, I cannot recollect having dealt with a public company that is run more like a wholly owned family business and appears unconcerned with other stakeholders – partners or otherwise. It remains my intention to ensure that Sports Direct is legally and financially held accountable for its failures.”