They were winning trophies before Ashley entered the building. A long, long, long, long, long, long time before Ashley entered the building.
Probably should have typed "long" a few dozen more times but couldn't be arsed.
He was prevented from doing so whilst he owned Newcastle, but I get the impression he didn't necessarily see full ownership as a viable way of making money from them.
He sold the Barcodes for twice what he bought them for and hadn't put much of his own money into them. Not sure Rangers would actually be worth much more unless they became a mainstay in the latter stages of the champions league.