FORMER Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias is due to fly into Glasgow on tonight to begin work at Rangers.
Llambias’ expected arrival follows confirmation that a £2m loan from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been accepted by the Scottish club, and is another indication of Ashley’s increasing influence at Ibrox.
Graham Wallace’s resignation as chief executive was confirmed this morning, just two days after failing to stop Ashley tightening his grip on the Glasgow giants.
The League One champions confirmed former Manchester City executive Wallace’s departure in a statement to the Stock Exchange.
In a separate statement made to the AIM – a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange – the crisis-hit club also announced it had accepted the £2m loan offer which effectively hands control to the Sports Direct tycoon.
As part of the deal, Ashley will now be allowed to replace Wallace and former finance director Philip Nash – who resigned on Friday – with his own directors.
Llambias is expected to be the first arrival, with reports suggesting Stephen Mucklow will follow soon after.
Wallace was brought in as chief executive last November by PLC chairman David Somers to lead the restructuring of the club.
He was criticised by the fans for failing to reveal the true state of the club’s fragile finances, and also found himself at odds with football board chairman Sandy Easdale – who controls a significant 26 per cent stake through shares and proxies – as he tried to push through a £16m rescue package being offered by former oldco director Dave King.
Easdale, though, was determined to forge an alliance with Ashley – who has now got his way.
Nash – Wallace’s only board ally – resigned on Friday after it became apparent Ashley’s victory was inevitable.
The Stock Exchange statement on his departure said: “The directors would like to thank Graham for his contribution to the club during a difficult period.
“The board has commenced the search for a chief executive officer. A further announcement will be made in due course.”
Wallace’s exit has now sparked rumours that boss Ally McCoist could be next out of the Ibrox door.
But Easdale insisted the club’s record scorer remains in charge.
“I have not spoken to Ally,” he told STV after arriving at the stadium shortly after 10am. “He is the manager and he continues to be the manager. We have not got any ideas of changing the manager. That is not on the agenda.”
News of Wallace’s resignation from his £315,000-a-year role was swiftly followed by confirmation of Ashley’s £2million interest-free loan.
It will give Rangers some much-needed breathing space following rumours the club were due to run out of cash on Tuesday.
Magpies chief Ashley – who owns 8.92 per cent of the Glasgow giants – saw off a late bid by Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy to put forward his own emergency loan facility and now has the Ibrox club in his iron-like grasp.
Although Ashley is prohibited from owning more than 10 per cent of Rangers while owning Newcastle after he signed an agreement with the Scottish Football Association three years ago, he does run the club’s retail division and holds naming rights to the stadium.
The terms of his loan also gives him security over the Albion Car Park and Edmiston House facilities on the doorstep of Ibrox.
The club’s second Stock Exchange statement confirmed Ashley’s move had been made in the name of his company MASH Holdings Limited.
It said: “The board is pleased to announce that the company’s subsidiary, The Rangers Football Club Limited, has entered into a credit facility agreement with MASH Holdings Limited pursuant to which MASH shall make available the sum of £2m for drawdown by the company.
“The facility shall be secured by standard security granted by the company over Edmiston House and Albion car park. The facility shall be for a six-month term and is interest-free. The facility will be used by the company for general working capital purposes. Under the terms of the facility, MASH has the right to appoint up to two directors on the board of directors of RFCL.”
Asked why the PLC board had chosen Ashley’s offer, Easdale said: “That’s not a question for me. The PLC board have done their duty and due diligence accordingly and I would say they have done what is in the best interests of the fans, the club and the shareholders.
“I can’t comment on how they reached that decision.
“I would hope this brings some stability to the club. We have got to look forward now.
“I can’t tell people how to make their decisions up but at the end of the day, the fans have heard so much over the years. I can only say we have got somebody who is interested in helping the club and we can only look at it as a positive.
“As far as I’m concerned (Ashley) wants to help the club. He has not intimated (that he wants total control) to me.”