Dave King, Mike Ashley, Sports Direct and Rangers


Over the past 48 hours the war over Rangers’ Retail escalated when major shareholder Mike Ashley, executive deputy chairman and founder of Sports Direct, managed to squeeze another director onto Rangers’ merchandise channel’s board.

Nigel Conway joins Justin Barnes and Cameron Olsen on Ashley’s payroll at Ibrox, with supporters getting increasingly frustrated at the struggle to get the Newcastle owner to completely back away from their Club.

Frankly, this whole soap opera has gone on for far too long, and for every blow Rangers, and particularly, chairman Dave King has successfully landed on the tycoon, this latest move suggests the businessman has no intention of exiting from Ibrox any time soon.

Rangers did successfully sever ties with Sports Direct, ripping up the contract which ceded intellectual property to the retailer, meaning a formal end to the partnership and Ashley’s loss of clout over Rangers’ crest and copyright.

But, alas, for all the progress made to rid Rangers of this menace, he still controls Rangers Retail and pockets every penny it generates. For every Rangers shirt or official mug sold, that cash goes straight into Mike Ashley or his company’s wallet, and Rangers see a miniscule amount into their coffers.

Where do Rangers go from here? After all the victories in court, even an indirect one with Ashley being slaughtered by a select committee at Westminster, he nevertheless still controls what he wants to and owns a dominant amount of shares.

While he can no longer use Rangers’ logos or any other imagery, he still ends up with the fat of the land from it, and that is worrying. With this appointment to his Retail board at Ibrox, he shows no signs of disappearing – if anything it is a defiant act designed to show that whatever King does, he has a rebuttal.

End of the day, the contract with SD was for seven years – that applied blanket, to every aspect of it, and while certain ones have now been terminated, unless King, Murray et al can find the legal loophole to break Ashley’s stranglehold on the revenue from RR, the sad (necessary?) boycott of official shirts by a large portion of the fanbase will go on.

Rangers fans want to put their cash in the club. In youth. In upgrades to Ibrox. In improvements to the facilities. In anything which helps the club grow. Ergo if buying merchandise is currently at odds with this, the stalemate will continue.

Ashley sees Rangers as an easy cash cow. Yes, he put loans in which did keep Rangers ticking over during a dark time of low funding, but the man did not do it out of the kindness of his heart; there was an agenda, an end game, ulterior motives abound. And evidently, with where we are now, it is pretty clear what those intentions were.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess – the hope is King and co can figure out some legal angle to completely suffocate Ashley out of Govan – but unfortunately, I am not holding my breath for it.


  1. King and Co have launched an action in Edinburgh naming among others Ashley and Sports Direct. Maybe they do have the loophole you talk about.

  2. Rangers retail is small beer to Ashley, his gripe is with the career criminal chairman and I fear he will not give that up until he was won.

    Rangers should be going for the guy who set up the contract with Ashley but in a strange way they cannot as they could end up paying his legal costs and their own.

    If Ashley cannot sell strips Rangers have to buy them so the boycott is futile as all it does is make Ashley richer.

    If SD cannot sell strips as they do not have IP right (yet to be fully understood imo), no strips can be sold, the shirt manufacturer and sponsors contracts will also be in dispute and could cost Rangers. No new strip..!!!

    I fear there is a triple catch 22 for Rangers regards shirts.

  3. Any unsold stock is invoiced to Rangers at full selling price plus a handling mark up, so SD get their pound of flesh irrespective whether the merchandise is sold or not.

  4. I think in the coming weeks all will become clear in Kings strategy and it will result in Ashley and SD leaving the building

    • Yer Havin a laff. King could be Mike Ashleys cock puppet.lets compare……self made Billionaire v convicted fraudster with limited funds. You confuse battles with wars. The war is scheduled to run for just shy of another 7 years.

    • Rangers,rangers, rangers eating away at your wee brain. Don't worry about us we'll be OK. Long live the king, really rich by the way

  5. As a lifetime bear when replica strips first appeared on the scene, I didn't mind buying them,but being a tight-arse, poverty stricken, young man, I couldn't really afford a new top every season as I had other ideas of how to spend my hard earned bazookas. I am now 60 and not quite so poverty stricken, but I am not giving that thieving, fat bastard my money.I support my team, not him. Can someone tell me when the money we spend thinking we are supporting the "gers" is actually going to them. I can't keep wearing my "C R Smith" Adidas top anymore as it's no longer "De Riguer"

  6. we don t need s d money we have the richest chairman in britain who will always back the manager with hard cash thats six players in already has any other club been able to match us in the transfer market no none and i heard we have made a bid for an england player so lets hear it for dave king in whom we should all trust

  7. A lot depends on the detail of the "7 year contract". If the contract states that "Rangers kit" is supplied to Rangers and Rangers Retail and SD cannot do that as they don't have access to the Rangers badges etc., they might default on the contract.
    The "insignia contract" was between Rangers and Rangers Retail. Not between Rangers and SD.
    Since Rangers own 51% of Rangers Retail, it is unlikely that the Rangers Retail board will launch a law suit against Rangers over the cancellation of the agreement. Ashley can only "outvote" the Rangers reps on the Rangers Retail board on "financial matters", not on other matters like contractual disputes.
    If Rangers Retail refuse to launch a law suit, there's nothing that SD can do about the "insignia contract", they don't have a direct contract with Rangers on the "insignia".
    It might be the case that if SD are unable to supply Rangers with "Rangers Kit" for next season, then they might be in default and the contract ended as a result. They might have a contract with Rangers Retail for use of the insignia, but that is useless if Rangers Retail no longer have a contract with Rangers to use it.
    It's a tricky matter. It will be very interesting to see what kit Rangers are using at the start of the season. If SD cannot supply "Rangers Kit" by an agreed date, I assume that Rangers will claim SD have failed to honour their contract and tear it up.
    Of course, as I said at the start, it all depends on the details of the contracts between Rangers and SD on the "Rangers Kit" and SD's contract with Rangers Retail.
    Rangers might well have a new supplier if SD are unable to supply "Rangers Kit" next season.

    • I'd say to counter that all sd have to do is release the strip without the rangers badge on it.

    • That's my point. If the contract states, specifically, that SD must supply kit with the insignia on it then they are bound by law to do that. If they can't then the contract will be voided.
      SD might have had control of the insignia, or access to it through their contracts with Rangers Retail, when they made the contract to supply the shirts and kit to Rangers. Obviously, SD no longer has access to the insignia directly. Or through Rangers Retail.
      So it all depends what is written in the contract. The exact wording. If he doesn't deliver the new kit, according to the contract, by the due date, SD will be in default. He cannot force Rangers to give him access to the insignia. Sd have no contract with Rangers over the useage of the insignia that he could enforce.

    • It seems obvious that SD cannot do that, as the kits have been sitting in a warehouse for weeks now. There's also the question of their contractual obligations to Puma as well. Puma would lose the advertising value if SD can't supply Rangers with the contracted kit. They would not be happy about that.
      I suppose Ashley could always approach Rangers and offer to do a deal. Don't know how Rangers would respond to that.

  8. I wish Mr Ashley would go back south of the border and stay in Newcastle (dick Turpin ) was more of a friend than mike Ashley and he was a highwayman who committed daylight robbery and that is what mike Ashley is he is also in my eyes just as bad as the others who were kicked out by our present regime

    • Daylight robbery is not paying your debt back to over 200 local companies , a club with no shame

  9. I seem to remember reading that directors of a company have a duty to the shareholders and as such cannot / should not make decisions which are obviously detrimental to the company. Is it not true that Ashley put his own men on the board and they on his orders they rubber stamped this deal which is blatantly one sided and detrimental to the company and shareholders. Surely this deal is so one sided there must be a way, by law to have it nullified.

  10. DK has not invested a penny and as for richest chairman in Britain you are seriously delusional chum! I think Mr Abramovich may just pip DK on that one!!
    The Team is weaker than last year, that is the reality. If people like you continue to accept the current mediocre crop of players then expect a long dismal struggle and mid table finish.

  11. Richest Chairman in Britain?………. a Tim taking the p*ss obviously as King spent his fortune keeping himself out of hail in South Africa.

  12. There is no so called loophole or this crap would have been sorted a long time ago.

    Radar Keith keeps going on about the unfairness of a 7 year deal tie in, chosing to ignore that the man who destroyed the club had a 10 year deal with a previous supplier……….with the usual kick back to add to the millions that he raped from the club.

  13. I Iive 5 minutes from Ibrox and have stopped a Couple of times in the car park by the shop to eat KFC lol

    I don't see the shop any quieter now then it was in recent years just less staff milling around.

    The boycott can't work which is semantics as it wasn't being adhered to anyway.

    Rangers should be buying them and including them in the season ticket charge for a start. Or selling them with match day rickets

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