RANGERS administrators have begun the process of whittling down the number of bidders for the club after Brian Kennedy confirmed yesterday that his offer had been rejected.
The high profile Kennedy was one of five significant bidders aiming to succeed current owner Craig Whyte. It is understood his offer was considered to be too low by the club’s administrators, Duff and Phelps.
Kennedy was present at last weekend’s Old Firm match at Ibrox in the company of long-time friend, and former Rangers manager, Graeme Souness. However, he has always maintained that he was only getting involved in Rangers due to a sense of “social responsibility”, and because he wanted to make sure this “great institution didn’t disappear”.
He presented himself as the fall-back option for the administrators, who, The Scotsman understands, are reaching the point where they can confirm a short-list of preferred creditors. “It has been a very, very active week,” said a source yesterday. Impetus has been provided by Lord Hodge’s ruling last week where he declined to give Ticketus, the finance company used by Whyte to help fund his takeover of the club, preferential treatment as creditors. Paul Murray’s Blue Knights consortium, United States-based Club 9 Sports, a UK-based consortium and a Singapore-based consortium have all expressed an interest in buying the club. Their bids remain on the table for the time being.
Kennedy, however, has backed out gracefully. Although his initial offer has been rejected by the administrators, it does not preclude him from making a renewed offer should he wish to do so. This is unlikely given that he has now thrown his support behind Murray’s Blue Knights consortium.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised by this outcome,” Kennedy said.
“I always said that I would only get involved for the good of the club and it seems my bid just wasn’t good enough.
“I’m glad the process is moving forward and I just hope the administrators go with Paul Murray and his Blue Knights now. I think they have the best interests of the club at heart.”
Murray, a former Rangers director, is reported to have threatened to walk away after being informed that Whyte is not prepared to sell his shares to his rival businessman “under any circumstances”. Whyte and Murray have been at logger-heads since Murray’s bid to buy the club last year was rejected in favour of an offer from his rival businessman.
However, it is understood that Murray’s latest bid need not be de-railed by personal antagonism between him and Whyte, who could be open to selling his shares to another member of Murray’s Blue Knights consortium.
This episode again appears to confirm that Whyte has a big say in the future of the club, despite having been written off as “absolutely irrelevant” to Rangers’ medium – or long – term future by administrators Duff and Phelps. Whyte was the subject of debate at Hampden Park yesterday. The Scottish Football Association has adjourned its hearing into the Rangers owner and Rangers after Whyte’s lawyers asked for more time to prepare a case.
It is understood Whyte wanted the hearing postponed until July. However, it will now be held over three days, on the 17, 18 and 20 April, with Whyte expected to attend in person.
The hearing follows Lord Nimmo Smith’s independent inquiry which ended with the SFA charging the administration-hit
Ibrox club and owner Whyte with seven breaches of its rules. The club is charged with five offences, including failing to abide by SFA regulations over the ‘fit and proper person’s test. Rangers claim there are mitigating factors and had hoped to persuade the panel to distinguish between the actions of one man and the actions of the club.
“We are disappointed the hearing has been adjourned,” said Paul Clark, of administrators Duff and Phelps. “The Club’s legal representatives were ready to make the Club’s case today which in essence is that there are extenuating and unprecedented circumstances in this case and we hope to demonstrate the distinction between the actions of the Club and the actions of individuals. We look forward to making our case at the earliest opportunity.”
On another busy day of Rangers news, it emerged that former Ibrox chief executive Martin Bain has dropped his legal action against the club. Bain was pursuing the Glasgow club for almost £900,000 in damages after he alleged breach of contract following his sacking by Whyte in May.
Bain issued a statement via legal firm Levy & McRae in which he stated that he would discontinue the legal action. He also said he will return the money frozen as part of his case, minus legal expenses, to the administrators “in an effort to help the club.”
l Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston has thanked Rangers fans for stepping in to settle the debt owed by the troubled Ibrox outfit.
The Rangers Fans Fighting Fund (RFFF) will today hand over a cheque for £22,000 to the Pars as part of the £85,000 that was due from gate receipts following Rangers trip to East End Park on 11 February, just before the Glasgow club plunged into administration.
Dunfermline ran into cash-flow problems of their own as a result and were initially only able to pay the players 60 per cent of their wages at the end of February.
A group of Rangers supporters also decided to attend the Pars’ visit of St Mirren last Saturday - 24 hours before the Old Firm clash - in a bid to help the club out.
Yorkston said: “I have to thank the fans for this gesture. I’ve read them saying that it was a debt of honour. I think the fighting fund has given the money to the administrators and the administrators are paying us but we’re delighted about which ever way we get it.”