Ashley Won't Attend Hearing

The Newcastle United owner, who also holds an 8.92 per cent stake in Rangers, had been called to appear before the Scottish Football Association's judicial panel.

The SFA has now confirmed a preliminary hearing will take place with their lawyers, Rangers and Ashley's camp to arrange a date for the full hearing, which the Sports Direct owner will be obliged to attend.

Ashley, 50, signed an agreement in 2012 stating he would not increase his stake in the Championship club to more than 10 per cent while he remained in charge at St James' Park, but the SFA was forced to step in and prevent him increasing that holding to just under 30 per cent last month.

However, after handing the Ibrox board two loans totalling £3m towards the end of last year, and placing associates Derek Llambias and Barry Leach on the board, Ashley has been able to take virtual control of the club.