MIKE Ashley has won the battle for control of Rangers after the Ibrox board rejected Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy’s 11th-hour loan offer, understands Press Association Sport.
The Newcastle owner - who already has an 8.92 per cent stake in the club - will now strengthen his grip on the Light Blues boardroom after his £2million offer was accepted by the club’s directors on Saturday morning.
Kennedy - a member of the Blue Knights consortium which failed to stop the club from sinking into liquidation in the summer of 2012 - had made a last-gasp £3million counter offer but the cash-strapped Ibrox outfit has decided to put its faith in Ashley.
This latest development now leaves chief executive Graham Wallace’s position in grave doubt.
The former Manchester City chief operating officer had been pushing for a £16million rescue package being put forward by former oldco director Dave King.
That put him in direct opposition with football board chairman Sandy Easdale - who controls a significant 26 per cent stake in the club through shares and proxies - after the McGill’s Buses owner pushed ahead with attempts to involve Ashley.
The Sports Direct tycoon had already struck a deal to run Rangers’ retail division and bought naming rights to the stadium from former chief executive Charles Green for just £1. Earlier this month Ashley also called an emergency shareholder meeting to vote off Wallace and finance director Philip Nash.
But when those talks with King broke down earlier this week, former Liverpool and Arsenal finance chief Nash decided to resign.
Ashley has already announced he will not sell Newcastle until the end of next season at the earliest and he his is prevented from owning more than 10 per cent of Rangers by a deal struck with the Scottish Football Association.
However, a source close to the billionaire told Press Association Sport that he was keen to increase his involvement with the Glasgow club. The source said: “Rangers are in serious financial difficulty and require his immediate financial help”.