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27 November 2015, 13:29
Rangers chairman Dave King has announced the club will repay the £5million loan owed to Mike Ashley.
The boardroom chief received a loud ovation as he broke the news at the club's annual general meeting in Glasgow on Friday.
The South Africa-based businessman revealed he and five of his fellow directors have vowed to provide the funds to reimburse Sports Direct owner Ashley.
King told around 1,000 shareholders at the Clyde Auditorium: "At the board meeting which we finished in the early hours of last evening, the board made a decision to reverse our previous position regarding the Sports Direct loan.
"I previously felt that loan was something the club was entitled to and shouldn't be repaid. But with the ongoing situation with Sports Direct a decision was made last night that we would endeavour to repay the loan as long as we could raise the funds to do so.
"I'm delighted that once again with the commitment the investors are giving to this club, it took me just one hour to make phone calls and myself, Douglas Park, George Letham, George Taylor, Paul Murray and John Bennett (gave a) commitment for the £5million and we will be advising Sports Direct today we will be repaying that loan.''
Ashley gave the money to a previous Rangers board in January, which included his right-hand men Derek Llambias and Barry Leach.
As part of the terms, the billionaire businessman was able to take security on a number of Rangers assets, including the club's Murray Park training ground and its trademarks.
However, after seizing power in March, King insisted he would not give the money back unless Ashley renegotiated the retail deal his firm struck with former Rangers chief executive Charles Green in 2012. Rangers have received £300,000 from that agreement in the last three years.
Ashley, who owns a nine per cent stake in Rangers, has previously taken out an order preventing King from revealing details of Rangers' commercial deals with Sports Direct. That meant King was forced to avoid a range of questions from shareholders as Friday's AGM got under way.
Ashley took the club back to court this week as he successfully applied for an interim interdict that blocked a vote which would have stripped the Newcastle United owner of his voting rights. King had sought the measure in an attempt to protect the club from further punishment for breaching the Scottish Football Association's dual-ownership rules.
The AGM was a more peaceful affair than the two previous meetings which saw supporters protest against the former directors.
Current club secretary James Blair apologised to shareholders as the rows with Ashley rumble on.
"We're sorry this has occurred,'' Blair told the meeting. "It would be nice to hold a meeting without events such as this and the company would like to apologise to all shareholders for the inconvenience.''