whats-going-on300Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has agreed to increase his interest-free loan to Glasgow Rangers.

The news comes from Rangers, who have announced on their website that Ashley’s holding company, MASH Holdings, has increased the credit facility it is providing by £1 million to £3 million to provide working capital.

Ashley currently holds 8.92% of Rangers voting rights and recently managed to add Derek Llambias to the club’s board.

There was an additional surprise in the announcement which went on to confirm that Ashley has given up the naming rights to Ibrox which he had acquired apparently for £1, earlier in the year. This is tied to a new marketing agreement between Rangers and Sports Direct which was confirmed in the following section of the club’s statement:

“The Board of Rangers is pleased to announce that Rangers Football Club Limited has entered into a partnership marketing agreement with SportsDirect.com Retail Limited (“Sports Direct”) in which Sports Direct has given up its naming rights to the Ibrox Stadium.

“The agreement consolidates existing marketing arrangements between the parties and results in a more normalised retail joint venture marketing arrangement in which Sports Direct will continue to have certain advertising rights.”

Rangers Executive Chairman, Dave Somers, is quoted on the club’s website and talks about the importance to both parties of their relationship and Sports Direct’s “long-term commitment to Rangers”.

Quite where all of this leaves our beloved Newcastle United? Well, your guess is as good as mine “if I’m honest”.

We do know that questions are being asked about Ashley’s agreement with the Scottish FA, whereby he has undertaken not to increase his shares in the club beyond 10% and not to exercise influence at board level.

There are also issues with UEFA around owning two clubs which play in the same competition. That bit isn’t a problem at the moment. But it does raise suspicions amongst United fans about the Newcastle Board’s ambitions for us, when answers at the so-called Fans Forum meetings indicate that Newcastle United qualifying for Europe is not seen as a priority.

Is this because the intention is for Rangers will be Ashley’s European advertising vehicle? Who knows.

One thing is sure. Ashley’s involvement with Rangers just adds to the fans’ confusion at Newcastle about what is actually going on and what does the future hold for us.

But after seven long years under the current ownership, with next to nothing in terms of communication between the owner and the fans, nothing they do can surprise us any more.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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