Former Rangers chairman Dave King led a successful boardroom coup to oust the Newcastle United owner in 2015 following a tense face-to-face meeting with the billionaire in London, according to the Sunderland Echo.
Ashley was reportedly enamoured with a belief that he could run Rangers at a profit, with that motive ultimately proving to be his undoing during his foray into Scottish football.
As was revealed by King via the Echo, a fixation on profit would have held back the sporting ambition of Rangers developmentally – with Rangers securing a long-awaited 55th league title after almost a decade’s wait.
“I don’t think Rangers would ever have folded completely in the sense the supporter base is so large,” said King.
“My view just prior to becoming involved with the club, when I looked at the Easdale/Ashley axis, was that under their business model Rangers were never going to compete for honours again.
“I had a conversation with Ashley in London, and his view was that he could run Rangers at a profit. He could have done that – of course he could. If you have 50,000 fans willing to buy season tickets, then it was feasible.
“If you spend less than you earn, and you have a loyal customer base, then he could have made a profit, but Rangers would never have competed. Rangers at that stage were so far behind Celtic that it required major investment to play catch-up.
“My concern was that if we hadn’t found a way to unlock regime change, and bring in investors who had the same target of winning leagues and not making money, then I felt Rangers would become a senior junior club in Scotland. It would have become a one-team league.”
Nothing but Newcastle’s View
The frugality of Ashley’s ethos is commendable, but periods of losses and investment are the unfortunate gamble that clubs take in order to remain at the apex of their competitiveness.