Newcastle owner Mike Ashley fined for breaking ownership rules with Rangers

FINED ... Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who has been fined for breaching dual ownership rules over his involvement with Rangers.
FINED ... Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who has been fined for breaching dual ownership rules over his involvement with Rangers.

NEWCASTLE United owner Mike Ashley has been fined £7,500 by the Scottish Football Association for breaching “dual ownership” rules with his involvement in Rangers.

The Sports Direct tycoon owns 9.82 per cent of the Ibrox outfit, but is prohibited from going over 10 per cent by an agreement struck with Hampden chiefs designed to limit his power at the Glasgow giants.

As part of that agreement, Ashley also gave an undertaking not to exercise undue influence on the club’s board.

However, his behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings over the past six months saw the SFA issue the 50-year-old with a Notice of Complaint.

His lawyers held a five-hour meeting with SFA QCs on Monday night, but the governing body waited until yesterday afternoon to announce its verdict.

Ashley - the world’s 306th richest man, worth an estimated £3.3bn - was fined £7,500 for breaching Disciplinary Rule 19, which relates to dual ownership.

A second charge relating to Disciplinary Rule 77 - which demands individuals involved in Scottish football must “act in the best interests” of the game - was found not proven.

The Magpies chief was among the original investors who ploughed around £22m into former chief executive Charles Green’s Initial Public Offering back in December 2012.

But it was late last year that he took a keener interest in the fallen Ibrox outfit.

He handed the club a £3m loan last October before nominating right-hand man Derek Llambias to the board as chief executive.

Another of his Sports Direct associates Barry Leach was then named finance director before Ashley signed off on another £10m loan last month.

That agreement gave him a floating charge on the club, as well as security on a number of assets, including Murray Park and the club’s registered trademarks.

Llambias and Leach remain the club’s only boardroom representatives after chairman David Somers and director James Easdale quit before they were axed by Dave King at Friday’s general meeting.

Rangers have also been charged with breaching Rules 19 and 77. They will learn their fate on March 16.