Shares on hold for Rangers

The Rangers board will have to wait until next week to discover whether they can forge ahead with plans for an exclusive share offer.

The board has proposed a special resolution at the club’s annual general meeting to offer shares to investors without needing to involve all existing shareholders.

The move is designed to provide much-needed cash and also dilute the influence of shareholder and Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, who chairman Dave King accused of “bullying” members of the board.

The resolution needs 75 per cent support and a similar vote fell just short last year. Club secretary James Blair told the AGM on Friday morning that the results of all resolutions were not expected until early next week.

King revealed that Ashley and former directors James and Sandy Easdale had formed a bloc in a bid to oppose the plan.

The South Africa-based businessman added that investors had pledged to turn loans into equity if the special resolution is passed. The club has received about £13million in loans from shareholders including King.

King said: “The last year has seen continuing attempts by Mike Ashley/Sports Direct to bully the company’s directors by suing them in a personal capacity.

“The present board comprises supporters who signed up for this challenge and who are not intimidated in the slightest by such bullies.”

A senior judge at the High Court in London branded Sports Direct’s attempt to have King jailed for contempt of court as “designed to intimidate” following a hearing over an alleged breach of confidentiality in January. The sportswear firm later dropped the case.

During a question-and-answer session, King stated there was a plan B to get further investment from other avenues if the special resolution was not passed, adding that the funding plan was completely separate from the business plan.

When asked if the board was in a position to keep providing soft loans for three years if Ashley kept bringing legal action, King said: “The Sports Direct situation is out of our control. If he keeps bringing action we will keep resisting it.”

Rangers and Sports Direct are involved in an ongoing legal dispute over the club’s retail and merchandising contracts.

Meanwhile, manager Mark Warburton was asked why he thought it was wise to sign Joey Barton, whose contract was terminated earlier this month following a training-ground row.

Warburton said: “Hindsight is a marvellous thing. We looked for players to add value and experience. I’ d hope you’d judge us by the 21 players who have come in rather than one individual.”

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