Headquarters of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct firm raided as part of police investigation into takeovers at Rangers 

  • Detectives searched the Derbyshire headquarters of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct company on Tuesday 
  • The raid was part of ongoing police investigations into the takeovers of Rangers by Craig Whyte in 2011 and Charles Green in 2012 
  • Police inquiry has largely centred on Whyte but is now widening its focus 
  • Newcastle United owner Ashley had built up a nine per cent stake in the Ibrox club 

Police investigating two Rangers takeovers in the past four years have raided Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley’s Derbyshire headquarters.

Officers from Police Scotland travelled south on Tuesday as part of their ongoing investigation into the acquisition of the club by Craig Whyte in 2011 and Charles Green the following year.

Detectives spent several hours at the offices in Shirebrook, near Mansfield, where Ashley's sportswear empire is based.

Police have raided the Derbyshire headquarters of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct company as part of an ongoing investigation into the takeovers of Rangers

Police have raided the Derbyshire headquarters of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct company as part of an ongoing investigation into the takeovers of Rangers

The headquarters of Sports Direct in Shirebrook, Derbyshire have been searched by police

The headquarters of Sports Direct in Shirebrook, Derbyshire have been searched by police

The raid is part of the ongoing police investigation into the takeovers of Rangers by Craig Whyte in 2011 and Charles Green the following year

The raid is part of the ongoing police investigation into the takeovers of Rangers by Craig Whyte in 2011 and Charles Green the following year

One worker told the Daily Record: 'When I tried to step outside the building at around 11am, I was told I couldn't leave until a full search of the premises had been carried out.

'One detective said we could go into the canteen while the search was ongoing but people wanted to know what was happening so we stayed there.

'At one point, the detective asked if any of those in reception was David Forsey, the chief executive. When we said he wasn't there, he said we were all free to go.'

Police Scotland confirmed that officers had searched a property in Derbyshire but would not comment further. 

Newcastle United owner Ashley had built up a nine per cent stake in Rangers but was barred from increasing it

Newcastle United owner Ashley had built up a nine per cent stake in Rangers but was barred from increasing it

Businessman Craig Whyte bought Rangers for £1 in 2011 but steered the club into trouble

Businessman Craig Whyte bought Rangers for £1 in 2011 but steered the club into trouble

A Sport Direct spokesman said the investigation is not focused on Mike Ashley or any of his staff.

He said: 'The premises were visited by police conducting an investigation relating to Rangers and various persons previously employed by and or associated with Rangers.

'The investigation is not directed at Sports Direct, any of its directors or employees. The police were seeking documentation which might assist the investigation.'

Whyte bought Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 in 2011 but he steered the club into administration in February 2012 and then liquidation in July 2012.

Green then stepped in to buy Rangers’ assets, beating a rival bid by a consortium led by former manager Walter Smith.

Charles Green stepped in during 2012 to buy Rangers' assets but his time at Ibrox was just as turbulent 

Charles Green stepped in during 2012 to buy Rangers' assets but his time at Ibrox was just as turbulent 

Derek Llambias, seen here at Ibrox earlier in the season, was one of Ashley's placemen on the Rangers board

Derek Llambias, seen here at Ibrox earlier in the season, was one of Ashley's placemen on the Rangers board

But his reign was equally as turbulent and he left after little more than a year after allegations of links with Whyte at the time of the 2011 buy-out surfaced.

The subsequent police inquiry was understood to have largely centred on Whyte – but now the focus seems to have widened to the club’s dealings over the past four years.

Newcastle owner Ashley build up a nine per cent holding in the club after Green got in but was later told by the SFA he couldn’t increase that stake due to his interests at St James’ Park.

His two placemen on the board, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach, were ousted during the boardroom coup that saw the Paul Murray-Dave King axis grab power.

 

 

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