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BREAKING: Ashley resigns from Rangers Retail

Reports this morning claim the Sports Direct tycoon has resigned from the board of Rangers Retail joint venture.

Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Just days after agreeing to appear in front of MPs to defend his "good name" it would appear the vice-like grip Mike Ashley held over Rangers' retail operations is showing further signs of loosening.

It is believed that Ashley, and Sports Direct (SD) chief executive David Forsey, resigned their positions on the Rangers Retail board on Friday. The move is the latest in a series which has seen Rangers launch civil action against Sports Direct over the controversial retail deal, withdraw the licensing agreement with SD which allows the retailers to produce and sell merchandise bearing the club's trademarks and give the required seven-year notice period to dissolve the joint venture.

The remaining directors on the Rangers retail board are Rangers director Paul Murray, club chairman Dave King and Sports Direct's head of legal Cameron Olsen, who acts as company secretary.

The joint venture between Rangers and Sports Direct, in which the club reportedly receive 4p in every £, was set in 2012 under Charles Green and has been the cause of a number of demonstrations by Sons of Struth as well being the motivation behind various supporters groups launching their own "alternative" merchandise. There has also been a fairly well observed, if somewhat opinion splitting, boycott of club-branded merchandise sold and a number of protests, in and out of the stadium, over the one-sided retail deal.

After taking control of the club in 2015, chairman Dave King has tried on a number of occasions to renegotiate the terms of the contract but has been refused at every opportunity by Ashley. The ongoing dispute has also seen the delay of the launch of Rangers' kits ahead of the club's return to top flight football.

Ashley and King have never had a relationship which could be described as anything other than contemptuous and Ashley's attempts to have the Rangers chairman jailed over an allegation of contempt of court was never likely to see either side come out with a renewed sense of wanting to work with the other.

Ashley, who also owns recently relegated Newcastle United, faces an investigation by the Football League over his part in the joint venture and his minority shareholding in Rangers. His involvement in two UK clubs appears to breach the Football League's rules on dual interests and the League have confirmed they will be investigating the matter.

Keep checking Got The Battle Fever On for the latest on this, and any other Rangers news, throughout the summer.