MIKE Ashley is so rich that it emerged yesterday he had held talks with House of Fraser about loaning the struggling department store chain £50m.

I am not privy to the fine tuning of the deal, big Mike doesn’t tend to let outsiders in, but my guess is he’s not writing such a large cheque all doe-eyed because that’s the store where he used to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.

As any long-term watcher of Ashley will tell you, even the smallest deal is done to grow his business.

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Ashley bought an eleven per cent stake in House of Fraser four years ago when 89 per cent of the business was sold to a Chinese conglomerate. He also has close to a 30 per cent stake in Debenhams and what have been called strategic investments in businesses including Goals Soccer Centres and French Connection.

He owns a football called Newcastle United, which he has done very well out of, and should he decide to sell, then you are talking in the region of £300m.

It’s nigh on impossible to say for certain where else Ashley, thought to be worth £3.2billion in personal wealth, has interest; however, he has been reported to have significant stakes in Blacks Leisure Group, the owner of Millets and Mambo,  JJB Sports and JD Sports among others.
When doing a bit of digging on the man’s portfolio, one quote from an anonymous banker stood out.

“He likes to park his tanks on peoples’’ lawns.” He was never really away from Edmiston Drive. You just couldn’t see the tank.

Something tells me the news Rangers fans plan to boycott Sports Direct, a store they might visit two or three times a year, is not going to bother Ashley one bit. Nothing does. It’s simple business.

Just when Rangers fans had started to feel a bit better about themselves, it emerged on Monday the club face a £500,000 court bill after reaching an out of court settlement with Ashley over the right to sell their kit.

Understanding the intricacies of such financial matters is not always straightforward – something which the average man in the street would attest to.

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However, enough is known about Ashleyto predict what his response would be when Rangers contested his argument that a contract clause gave Sports Direct the right to match any offer to sell the club’s strips –
just as the previous deal was about to run out – and then did not afford them that opportunity. 

To quote Chris Brady, a football financial expert, who gave his thoughts on the matter to The Sun: “It looks like Rangers have spent roughly £500,000 pursuing a case they had no chance of winning. From the outside it looks like Rangers were never going to win.”

The High Court judge, Mr Justice Phillips, did come out with a great line of his own when he told the Sports Direct legal team that, having won and that they now had this contract with Rangers, “the time has come to try and make peace”.

That’s not going to happen I’m afraid.

Ashley is utterly ruthless. I spent three years writing about Newcastle United and their owner, despised by the fans and my conclusion was this: he always wins. Even those little setbacks, a damaging documentary and subsequent summons to speak at parliament to explain the treatment of his employees at Sports Direct, are nothing. 
Not really.

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When Ashley first got involved at Rangers in December 2012, the club were desperate, which is why two years later they accepted his £2m loan.

There will be many fans of the Ibrox club who might believe that Ashley’s influence over their club will start to wane as time goes on, however, my fear for Rangers is that the businessman isn’t going anywhere, that he sees Rangers as something worthwhile for him to be interested in. 

Who knows with the man? He’s not easy to second guess.
However, if you look at all the little battles and big wars he’s fought, he wins most of them and that includes court cases.

A good lawyer could have told Rangers that for nothing and saved them a fortune.