It appears that Mike Ashley is continuing to throw his weight around at Ibrox despite owning less than 10% of the clubs' shares. Newcastle United, owned by Ashley, loaned five of their players to the Scottish club in the dying minutes of the transfer window, in a move reminiscent of Udinese's loans to Watford in the 2012/2013 season.
It has emerged however that Rangers manager Kenny McDowall has been told every one of those players must play if fit. As reported by STV, McDowall told a press conference he was instructed to do so by the board, when asked if they had to play every week he replied;
Yes. They are obviously good players - they play for Newcastle - but I will carry on and do what I am told to do.
I was told at the offset that players would be coming in that wouldn't be my responsibility. So I'll carry on regardless.
I'd like to think I can make a substitute and make a change, but that's where we're at.
Ashley has provided Rangers with much-needed working capital over the last number of years, including a recent £5m loan. Bizarrely however, £3m of this was used to repay a previous loan given by Ashley. For his loans he has received stakes in Rangers retail business, in which he already had a 49% stake, as well as security of their training complex and registered trademarks. He also gained two places on the board; Derek Llambias becoming Chief Executive and Finance Director Barry Leach.
While his shareholding is a mere 8.92%, he had been blocked by the SFA in attempts to increase it beyond 10%, it appears that the Newcastle United man is pulling the strings at Ibrox.