By Alex Stevens
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been branded a quitter who “failed miserably” in trying to impose himself on Rangers.
Ibrox chairman Dave King delivered his no-holds-barred verdict on Ashley, who he revealed has disappeared from the scene after a series of high profile run-ins and defeats against King in British courtooms.
The Johannesburg-based tycoon says his club are now considering going it alone if they can’t strike a new deal with Puma to manufacture their replica kit.
King arrived in Glasgow on Saturday morning to unfurl the Scottish Championship flag before his side kicked off the new season with a 1-1 draw against Hamilton at their Ibrox headquarters.
He is adamant the club’s legal position in their controversial retail agreement with Sports Direct has never looked stronger.
He is more confident than ever before of securing a deal that benefits Rangers, rather than billionaire retailer Ashley who reportedly gives just four pence in every pound spent back to the club.
“Mike Ashley went off the (Rangers Retail) board so he kind of cut and ran, I suppose, when the going got tough,” said King, as quoted by the Daily Record. “He’s disappeared, we don’t deal with Mike Ashley at all.
“He went on the retail board to try and impose himself on Rangers. He failed miserably and he has cut and run. I guess he has bigger problems in life right now than worrying about the retail relationships with Rangers.
“It’s emotionally easier to deal with others because of the nature of the individual. But, commercially, we have proceeded on a basis we felt was commercially robust.
“We have been consistent. I have given same message repeatedly and we have continued on that path.
“Mike Ashley being in there or not in there is more about the energy he brings to it. Perhaps that negative energy not being there makes it easier, but his other guys are also tough as well.”
Rangers announced in May they were ripping up the contract allowing Rangers Retail, a jointly owned company with Sports Direct, to sell shirts and other official merchandise.
Rangers withdrew its trademarks from Rangers Retail, but were stunned last week when Puma – who have close links to Ashley – pushed ahead with a kit launch, much to the disappointment of supporters.
In other Newcastle news, Moussa Sissoko has tweeted a story about his future.