RANGERS has regained the legal ownership of its precious trademarks from Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley, it has been confirmed.

A host of Rangers and club-related trademarks and logos including the club name, Ibrox and The Gers, were held by Mr Ashley and Sports Direct as security against a £5 million emergency loan taken by the club at the start of last year.

Mr Ashley, who is also the Newcastle United owner and has a near 9% share in Rangers, gave the Scottish Championship leaders the money to help them remain solvent - but it came with a string of conditions including securities over assets, including trademarks.


Now official documents lodged with the Intellectual Property Office confirm that the Rangers trademarks, which also include the famous RFC Scroll crest, the Ready logo and the image of the Broxi Bear mascot are now back under the ownership of the club.

The development has come after Rangers' decided to pay back the £5 million loan to Mr Ashley last month after raising a £6.5 million loan from associates of club chairman Dave King.


A Rangers spokesman said: "Rangers are happy to confirm that they are the registered owners of all the club's trademarks."

The development does not, however, stop Mr Ashley's Sports Direct having control over rights to exploit the valuable trademarks, through Rangers Retail, the merchandising joint venture with Sports Direct, confirmed by then chief executive Charles Green in August 2012.

Ownership gives the holder the right to control what happens to the trademarks. In Rangers' case exclusive licences gave Rangers Retail controlled by Mike Ashley the right to exploit the relevant intellectual property rights.

Mr Ashley is still the power within Rangers Retail, which runs the club's entire retail operation, including the Rangers Megastore, and holds exclusive rights under licence to use the club's name, famous crests and badges.


In November it emerged Mr Ashley, joined the Rangers Retail board with club chairman Dave King.

That meant Sports Direct had a majority influence over the company as Mr Ashley's allies outnumbered Dave King and director Paul Murray by three to two at boardroom level.

According to Rangers Retail papers, Sports Direct has A shares in the operation but even with 49 per cent of the joint venture, they are twice as valuable when it comes to crucial voting. That's because each A share receives two votes instead of just one on "Financial Matters".


According to Companies House records, Rangers Retail's registered address in Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire is identical to that of Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited.

And IPO papers show that the licence representative is IBML Legal, a part of Sports Direct's licensing division. It was responsible for acquiring for Sports Direct sporting brand names including Slazenger, Dunlop, Lonsdale, Everlast, Kangol, Karrimor, No Fear, Lillywhites, Donnay and Carlton.

Over a week ago, Rangers gave Sports Direct formal notice that they wish to ditch the the retail deal.

But the contract between the two requires a seven-year notice period, unless Sports Direct agrees to end it, or further legal action seeks to nullify the contract.

Mr King has said the club was "reserving our right to proceed with challenges to the existing suite of contracts and side agreements in a court of law".

The controversial retail arrangement, agreed by a previous Rangers board, meant that the club earned about 4p in every pound spent on Rangers merchandise.

The Rangers Retail set up has been a long-lasting area of controversy and the Rangers Supporters Trust fans group has previously called for a boycott of club’s merchandise over the joint venture. At the end of 2014 it launched an alternative shirt for fans as they took on Mr Ashley - and said all profits would be ploughed back into an increased shareholding in their club.

The previous 10-year licence agreement with sports retailer JJB Sports rubber stamped in 2006, was worth a minimum of £48 million to the club. The club got an initial payment of £18 million when they launched an Umbro home kit and were guaranteed a minimum annual royalty of £3 million in each year of the licence.

Latest accounts show that while Rangers Retail turnover quadrupled from £1.2 million in the year to April 2013 to £4.8m in the year to April 2014, profits only doubled from £434,312 to £877,662. That is because its costs, soared from £546,656 to £4.2 million.

It is understood the money has gone to Sports Direct as Rangers Retail is buying Rangers merchandise, including replica kits, gifts, polo shirts and track suits from the Ashley-controlled firm for sale in club outlets.