Alan Brazil: It’s time for Rangers to speak Direct to Ashley

Mike Ashley (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

MIKE Ashley is many things.

He’s a guy who loves a pint, loves a bet, and loves a curry, for instance.

But one thing he is not is a financial failure.

When Rangers announced their latest losses of £14million, I couldn’t help but think about Ashley.

Gers fans reckon the Sports Direct owner should shoulder a share of the blame for their money troubles.

But I think they’re mostly barking up the wrong tree.

Rangers are still trying to fight Ashley’s company over merchandise rights in court.

It’s Dave King’s prerogative to do so – and he’s clearly angry about the situation.

But I reckon Rangers fans’ fury should be directed at the person who signed the deals with Sports Direct on behalf of their club in the first place.

Mike Ashley is a hard-nosed businessman.

He isn’t going to walk away from his arrangement with Rangers with nothing.

That’s why he’s hanging around, despite all the flak he gets.

It’s why he’s hanging around at Newcastle United, too.

A Magpies fan confronted Ashley in a London curry house last week, thinking he’d get one over on his club’s owner.

Instead, Ashley is reported to have threatened to knock the guy out if he didn’t sling his hook!

It’s another story that will make him unpopular.

But strangely, I know people who know Mike, and they insist he’s a great guy.

He’s also a multi-millionaire who makes money for fun.

I hear he’s always thinking, always coming up with ideas for the next way to make his businesses more profitable.

So maybe Rangers would do better to stop fighting the guy in court and start talking to him instead?

That’s what I would be doing if I were in charge of the club.

Their mission at the moment should be to get cash for Steven Gerrard to strengthen.

Instead, they’re being ordered to fork out hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

Maybe Mike enjoys fighting back against all the criticism he gets.

That might be part of why he won’t back away from Newcastle and his deal with Rangers.

But I think he likes making money even more.

It would be easy for most of us to cut our losses if we were subject to the kind of abuse that Mike Ashley is.

But he is motivated by business.

He knows Newcastle United is worth hundreds of millions, so he’s content to hang on to it until he can sell it for a price he reckons is right.

He has made mistakes along the way, there’s no doubt about that.

Bringing in guys like Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear riled up Newcastle fans.

He has become an enemy to Rangers supporters, too, who reckon he’s trying to strangle the club.

But I tend to think he’s hanging in there because he sees an opportunity to make money.

I know this won’t be popular, but Rangers might be better served trying to work with him rather than against him.

They’re miles behind Celtic at the moment – even more off the park than on it – and the only way to close the gap is by finding investment and spending money.

At the moment, that’s something it doesn’t look like they, unlike Ashley, are blessed with.

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