Mike Ashley steps down from Newcastle board after demanding Rangers repay £5m loan

Joe Hall
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Mike Ashley has stepped down from the Newcastle board (Source: Getty)

Mike Ashley has stepped down from the Newcastle United board of directors and will be replaced by newly appointed head coach Steve McClaren.

Former England manager McClaren has signed an initial three-year deal with the Tyneside club, after being sacked as Derby County manager last month.

By combining coaching duties with boardroom duties, McClaren will become the first Premier League coach to sit on his club's board.

Read more: How much of Ashley's money goes on Newcastle transfers?

Sports Direct founder Ashley is unpopular with many Newcastle fans, who staged boycotts and protests against his ownership last season.

The billionaire's interest in Scottish football club Rangers has also sparked controversy amongst the Scottish club's fanbase. Ashley, who owns an 8.9 per cent stake in Rangers, is calling on the financially-strapped club to repay a £5m loan given to the club in January - secured against the club's trademarks and training grounds.

Ahead of a general meeting at Ibrox on Friday, where shareholders will be asked to vote to resolve the issue, Ashley issued a statement telling chairman Dave King that the best way to maximise Rangers' retail profit was to give back the money.

Ashley has a controlling stake in the club's retail operations and warned King that his company is "not a bank":

It should not be forgotten that at the end of the day, Sports Direct is not a bank, it is a supportive business partner and it entered into a £10million loan facility with RFC on the basis of providing much needed financial support at the relevant time.
That is why if, nevertheless the new board and the shareholders of Rangers Plc believe that the current shareholding in Rangers Retail of 75 per cent Sports Direct and 25 per cent RFC is too generous to Sports Direct, then the solution is simple.
RFC is fully entitled at any time to repay the current £5million loan to Sports Direct and revert back to the prior shareholding in Rangers Retail of 51 per cent RFC and 49 per cent Sports Direct.

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