(Source: therst.co.uk )The Rangers Supporters Trust notes the statement by MASH today and, given that Sports Directs and MASH have felt the need to attempt to justify their untenable position with regard to Rangers Football Club, we felt it would be appropriate to respond in similar detail.
First of all we would like to announce that our members have voted overwhelmingly ahead of the upcoming GM to support the Rangers board recommendations on the resolutions put forward. We will be voting against the MASH Resolution 1 and for the Rangers board Resolution 2.
MASH has laid out its concerns about the delisting from AIM. They seem to be ignoring documented fact and attempting to insinuate that the loss of the listing was down the incoming board rather than the previous board, effectively controlled by MASH, which had mismanaged the club over the preceding months. Mr Llambias and Mr Leach, lieutenants of Mr Ashley and appointed by him, as well the Easdale brothers, Mr Ashley’s shareholder allies, managed the club with disgraceful disregard for its fans, staff and well-being over a period of many months. Simply put they ran it into the ground. They ignored concerns of their customers and shareholders and at times deliberately antagonised them.
If MASH was concerned about the AIM listing then they should have chosen their boardroom placemen more carefully and ensured they ran the company with proper levels of corporate governance and not simply for the benefit of Mr Ashley. In short, Mr Ashley may well know how to make money for himself at any cost but as can be seen at both Rangers and Newcastle he doesn’t have a clue how to run a football club properly.
On the retail side we note Mr Ashley’s points and would make several of our own.
1) Rangers has historically had one of the most profitable merchandise brands in UK football. This was the case up to and including the JJB deal prior to Mr Ashley’s involvement.
2) At no point in the past 20 years has Rangers made as little money from merchandise as they have since Mr Ashley became involved.
3) Sports Direct claim to be experts in retail and indeed they are. They are experts at making money for Mr Ashley however, not his “business partners”.
4) Mr Ashley talks about a “far reaching distribution network”. Ask Rangers fans abroad how that network is working for them as they ask friends and family to post strips to them.
5) Mr Ashley may have a profitable business but it is one that specialises in low price goods. Sports Direct does not have a clue how to grow, market and improve a premium sports brand like Rangers and frankly shows no interest in doing so. In fact, Sports Direct have hugely damaged the Rangers brand through Mr Ashley and his associates antagonistic attitude to fans.
6) If Rangers were to repay Mr Ashley’s loan, recover all securities and revert to the previous Rangers Retail split they would still be the victims of the contracts put in place by Mr Ashley’s lieutenants and would continue to make a pittance whilst Mr Ashley enjoys virtually free stadium advertising and Sports Direct make money at every stage of the retail process.
Mr Ashley talks of being a “supportive business partner” yet has called a spurious General Meeting to vote on a resolution that he knows has no binding effect and which will be defeated. He is costing the club more money having already secured assistance from previous board members to hand him ridiculous merchandise deals, virtually free stadium naming, virtually free advertising space at Ibrox and the granting of security over club assets when much more favourable loan arrangements were on offer. Repaying the loan and “equalising profit arrangements” as Mr Ashley disingenuously puts it, does not solve the underlying problem that the contracts he has entered into are solely for the benefit of Sports Direct.
It is our position that, unless Mr Ashley renegotiates the current contracts he holds with Rangers Football Club, on terms which are vastly more profitable to the club, then Rangers fans should not purchase any official merchandise. We would also suggest that they should boycott all brands and companies that Mr Ashley is involved with. Mr Ashley’s business practices have been the source of much public debate recently and we fully expect that to continue. Rangers Football Club has suffered as much as any company at the hands of Mr Ashley and his greed at all costs mentality. We will continue to liaise with any interested party to expose exactly how Mr Ashley conducts himself and look forward to making further progress in that regard in the very near future.