05 September 2014

What Was Mike Ashley's Preferred PR Firm Invoicing Rangers For?

A PR firm which acts for Mike Ashley at Newcastle has invoiced Rangers for fees despite doing no obvious work for the club.

Keith Bishop Associates (KBA) are closely linked to Ashley and list Newcastle Utd as a client on their website. It is understood that Charles Green claimed to Ibrox staff that KBA were retained as part of the Sports Direct retail deal.

The invoice below, along with others over what is believed to have been an initial 16-18 month deal, was received by perplexed Rangers employees who queried it. They were told by then Finance Director, Brian Stockbridge, that invoices from KBA had to be paid despite no explanation being provided about what work KBA had done for Rangers.

After Charles Green left the club, Stockbridge was instructed to travel to London to terminate the contract with Keith Bishop but Stockbridge returned with the contract still in place. Sources have told CRO that Club employees were disgusted that at a time when costs were being cut all over, and people were losing their jobs, these invoices were taking money out of already stretched budgets. KBA were invoicing at a time when Jack Irvine's Mediahouse were also retained by Rangers as expensive PR consultants.

There is no suggestion that Ashley himself received money from the deal but the employment of KBA was linked to the Sports Direct deal which Charles Green agreed with Ashley.

Newspaper reports in recent days have claimed that Ashley was handed the naming rights to Ibrox by Charles Green for only £1 and it also now appears that Ashley has full control of all of Rangers Retail operations after the club shops were absorbed by Sports Direct. It appears unlikely that the deal with Sports Direct will net the club nearly as much as the previous retail deal with JJB, which was also heavily criticised as being undervalued.

Rangers fans are likely to be further concerned that this PR firm linked to Ashley could have received payments in the region of £10,000 a month despite most people at Ibrox having no idea what, if anything, they did for club. It is not clear if KBA are still receiving money from the club or if the contract has now run its course.