Laxey Partners chairman hopes Rangers fans can halt Mike Ashley takeover at Ibrox

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley

The chairman of Laxey Partners says he sold his stake in Rangers to the ‘Three Bears’ in order to let the Ibrox support take on Mike Ashley.

The Isle of Man investment group firm was the largest shareholder in the club but has now sold its 16 per cent stake to a consortium made up of Douglas Park, George Letham and George Taylor in a deal worth almost £2.7million.

Now Laxey chief Colin Kingsnorth has revealed he handed the trio the 13.3million shares the firm had built up since December 2012 in order to halt Ashley’s Ibrox takeover.

He also accused chairman David Somers of being a “wet fish” and admitted his disillusionment with the ruling Ibrox regime after Norman Crighton, Laxey’s man on the board, decided to quit earlier this month.

Rangers are desperately short of money and need to raise £8.3million before April 1 if they are to stay afloat.

The Glasgow giants’ cash crisis got so bad they were forced to offload their best player, Lewis Macleod, to SkyBet Championship side Brentford on Wednesday for an “undisclosed fee”.

Newcastle United owner Ashley – who has taken an 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers and controls the Glasgow giants’ retail division – has the club in his iron grasp after issuing the board with an emergency £3million loan.

However, the Scottish Football Association has already blocked his attempt to raise his stake to 29.9 per cent after ruling it would breach “dual ownership” regulations.

Kingsnorth wants to see an Ibrox boardroom populated by Rangers supporters react to the billionaire Sports Direct businessman.

In a statement, Kingsnorth said: “I sold because a fans-based group were hopefully going to be the best placed to take on Ashley’s power. After Ashley removed Norman Crighton, Ashley’s most vocal critic, it was obvious David Somers was just a wet fish agreeing anything Ashley wanted.

“I am sure the Three Bears are an upgrade on us for fans and hopefully this is the start of the ownership being in the right hands.”

Motor group boss Park has had his wealth previously estimated at £78million, while Letham – who sits on the board of the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST) – has already loaned the club £1million earlier this year.

Taylor, meanwhile, bought a 3.2 per cent stake in the club last month – meaning the consortium is now in control of 19.5 per cent of Rangers.

The trio have already lodged a £6.5million offer to underwrite a share issue with the club’s board. In return, they want two seats on the Rangers board.

It could on Friday at the earliest before the Laxey sale is confirmed to the Stock Exchange.

Wednesday’s transaction will not see any cash flow into Rangers’ coffers but it will allow the Three Bears to participate directly in any share issue taking place early in the new year.