Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct offices visited by police investigating Rangers

The Newcastle United owner is a former shareholder at the Scottish club

Sports Direct, the sporting goods company founded by Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner and Rangers shareholder, has been visited by the police as part of an investigation into the former ownership of the Scottish club.

Detectives investigating Rangers’ controversial former owners Craig Whyte and Charles Green travelled from Scotland to the Sports Direct offices in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. The investigation is not aimed at Sports Direct and the company is cooperating fully.

“The premises of Sports Direct at Shirebrook were visited by Police Scotland conducting an investigation relating to Glasgow Rangers FC and various persons previously employed by and or associated with Rangers,” read a Sports Direct statement. “The police investigation is not directed at Sports Direct or at any of its directors or employees. The police were seeking documentation which might assist the investigation.

“Sports Direct has co-operated fully and will continue to cooperate in the provision of information that the police request.”


Scottish police said: “We can confirm that officers carried out a search of property in Derbyshire. As this is a live inquiry it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

Ashley, who has a controlling shareholding in Sports Direct, has a near nine per cent stake in Rangers and controls the club’s retail operations.

Open letter

Meanwhile, Fabricio Coloccini has begged Newcastle's fans to put their anger to one side and support the team to a crucial Premier League victory at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

The Newcastle captain has taken the unusual step of issuing an open letter through the club's media channels after another dismal week on Tyneside which saw the head coach, John Carver, survive talks about his future.

Carver, who accused the defender Mike Williamson of deliberately getting sent off in the Magpies' eighth consecutive league defeat at Leicester on Saturday, did not merit a single mention in Coloccini's extensive plea.

Coloccini apologised for the club’s recent plight and insisted: “Players and staff have come together in order to leave all past problems aside and to focus 100 per cent on the three ‘cup finals’ that we have left.

“I would like to make a call to all fans today to also leave aside all differences, all different opinions, anything that divides us as people who love this club.

“On Saturday, please come to St James’ Park, create a great atmosphere, support the team more than ever, because at the end of the day what matters the most here is Newcastle United Football Club.

“I am also a fan and I understand how badly you are hurting, but I think that the best fans are those who are there for their club in the worst of situations.

“Today we need you more than ever. In these three games we need to be together, we need to be united, to be a family – a family that fights together against adversity, a family that strives to achieve the success that you and this club deserve.”

No movement on Carver

Yet long-suffering Newcastle fans might not be so easy to convince having already taken to social media this week to express their disappointment that Carver is set to remain in his post.

It is understood Carver neither offered to walk away during talks with managing director Lee Charnley, nor was asked to step down. But that situation might have been different had the Derby County manager, Steve McClaren, not indicated that he was not ready to give Newcastle the answer for which they were looking after a lengthy pursuit.

McClaren was at the top of the list drawn up by Charnley in January as he looked to replace Alan Pardew, and when he could not get his man at the time, he decided to hand Pardew's assistant Carver the task of guiding Newcastle over the finishing line.

But little did he expect at that point that a team sitting comfortably in mid-table would win only two of its next 16 league games and lose the last eight in succession, to slip into the thick of a survival fight.

McClaren’s prospects of landing the job in the longer term may have been dealt a fatal blow by his continued reticence, but the club’s short-term focus is more fundamental.

Saturday’s 3-0 humiliation at Leicester, during which Williamson and Daryl Janmaat were sent off, left the Magpies in 15th place, and just two points clear of the relegation zone.


Thousands of fans have boycotted the last two games in protest at the way they perceive owner Mike Ashley to be running the club but on Saturday they know only victory will ease their relegation fears.

Given that they have only scored four goals and conceded 18 in the last eight games, that looks a remote prospect unless something changes radically in the Newcastle dressing room.

And Coloccini is clearly hoping his open letter will do the trick.

(Guardian Services)