Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley could rename Ranger’s Ibrox stadium “at the drop of a hat” after the Scottish Daily Record on Thursday reported the rights were sold to the businessman over two years ago for a reported £1.
The news that former Rangers chief executive Charles Green sold Ibrox’s stadium naming rights to Mike Ashley for a mere £1 in a backroom deal, was only just revealed in an interview with current Ranger’s director, Sandy Easdale.
The team director admitted for the first time that the Newcastle FC owner owned the rights and could at any time rename the stadium.
Easdale said: “Let’s clear this up, the Sports Direct Arena. Charles Green had already done a deal with Mike on that. Sports Direct haven’t taken it up as yet. Mike Ashley could call it the Sport Direct Arena tomorrow.”
The Daily Record claimed that the team spent a whopping £250,000 trying to have the stadium-threatening contract nullified, to no avail.
Easdale however backed Ashley to lead the club forward, inviting him to partake in the latest £4m share issue.
He added: “I’m pro Mike Ashley to the extent he is probably the guy who can help us at this moment in time. His plan was to increase his shareholding but he’s come across a stumbling block with the SFA. It’s up to him now to sort that out.
“But if he was allowed to increase his shareholding then who wouldn’t want a billionaire investing in their club?”
Easedale failed to reveal a price for the naming rights deal, with the newspaper citing ‘sources’, while it is also whether Ashley provided further financial incentives to sweeten the deal.
Nonetheless, earlier this year the Scottish Rugby Union sold the naming rights of Murrayfield to BT for £20m in a four year deal – showing the worth of high-capacity Scottish stadiums to sponsors.