The Scottish Football Association has turned down a request from Rangers to allow Mike Ashley to increase his shareholding at Ibrox.
Newcastle owner Ashley is understood to have signed up to an agreement with the SFA that limits his stake to 10 per cent but wanted a new deal that would allow him three times that amount.
However the SFA said its board had “unanimously” rejected the application.
The talks came despite Ashley and Rangers facing a total of five disciplinary charges from the SFA over his recent moves to strengthen his influence at the club.
An SFA statement read: “The Scottish FA board convened on Tuesday, 23rd December to hear a submission from the board of Rangers Football Club.
“This meeting was arranged in respect of a request set out in an application to consent to an increase in MASH Holdings Limited’s shareholding in Rangers International Football Club to a maximum of 29.9 per cent of the issued share capital.
“The board has now carefully considered the application and has decided, unanimously, that the application should not be granted.
“The board, under article 13 of the Scottish FA articles of association, is required to have due regard to the need to promote and safeguard the interests and public profile of association football, its players, spectators and others involved with the game.”
The talks were held a day after Rangers chairman David Somers claimed that a “great deal of anti-Rangers feeling” exists within Scottish football, “perhaps (although I hope not) even in the football establishment”.
Ashley and the club now face a hearing on January 27 which will determined whether the Sports Direct founder’s dual interests breached SFA rules and their agreement.
Although his current stake in the club stands at 8.92 per cent, the club’s retail division is run by Sports Direct and the Newcastle owner has recently handed the club a B£3million loan.
Derek Llambias – the former Newcastle managing director and close associate of Ashley – was recently named Rangers chief executive after earlier joining as a consultant and then being made director.
Sports Direct executive Barry Leach also joined as a consultant and was on the stage at the club’s annual general meeting on Monday.
Rangers swiftly responded with a statement of their own which read: “The Board of Rangers Football Club are very disappointed with the SFA’s decision and we will now consider all our options.”
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