The Rangers administrators have confirmed that there is no hope of bringing certainty to the Rangers takeover scenario before Sunday’s Old Firm match at Ibrox.
On Friday, Paul Murray, the head of the Blue Knights consortium, said there was no reason why Duff & Phelps couldn’t bring clarity to the future of the club before Celtic’s arrival for what may yet be a title decider. “It would provide a massive boost to the team and its fans ahead of such an important game,” said Murray. No such boost seems likely, however.
It’s been reported that Rangers are in receipt of three bids as it stands – the Blue Knights consortium, the solo effort from Brian Kennedy and the third from the Chicago sports, entertainment and media group Club 9. It is understood, though, that one other foreign party tabled a bid on Friday and supposedly another, a Middle Eastern group, contacted the administrators on Thursday evening and may also lodge a bid early this week.
Other joke bids have been received. A grandfather wrote a letter to the administrators saying he would like to buy the club for his grandson’s birthday. Another offered three empty bottles of Irn-Bru –“worth a few quid if you bring them back to the shop,” said the prankster. “That ought to cover it.”
Of the real bids, Paul Clark of Duff & Phelps refused to say whether one was stronger than another, saying instead that any of them could win and that there is still time for new bidders to enter the picture.
The supposed deadline of Friday seems to have been more of a hurry-up to interested parties, all of whom had placed qualifications on their bids pertaining to Craig Whyte, the big tax case and the on-going scenario with Ticketus and its claim on 100,000 Rangers season tickets over the next four seasons. The Court of Session in Edinburgh will resume debate on that matter tomorrow.
One of the bidders, Brian Kennedy, said his offer was predicated on all these factors being “cleaned up”. All other offers would be, too, he said. Clark is confident of delivering a clean club to the preferred bidder.
The administrators met Whyte last week. “We’ve had discussions with Craig and in fact I met him earlier in the week just to try and finalise some of these issues,” Clark said. “I remain confident that Craig Whyte’s position will not be an impediment to a sale.
“It’s a time for cool heads,” he added. “We’ve had bids and we’re pleased with them but there are still several big issues we need to deal with. We’re going to get on and move it forward now.
“There was comment about whether we could get it resolved before Old Firm game. That would be very optimistic. It will be clearer by that stage [next Sunday] but I don’t think the position will be completely resolved. We have to work out what each bid means and then sit down face to face with the parties and go through it and make sure we know what the deal will look like.”
Though the Blue Knights, headed by the only Rangers fan in the bidding process that we know of, may be the fans’ choice, sentiment will not come into the minds of the administrators when assessing what’s on the table. “I don’t think we can give any substantial weight to an emotional attachment to the club, so really it’s about the financial side of it. What I would say is that those with an emotional attachment and financial backing would find themselves well-placed. It’s mainly about how much money they’re sticking into the creditors pot. Principally, it’s about what goes into the creditors pot.”
Clark said that that the interested parties have been asking about the various SFA disciplinary charges facing the club as well as the SPL inquiry and what the ramifications may be. It’s a further complication to doing a deal. “It’s unfortunate that there are so many issues,” said Clark. “It would have made our life easier if they didn’t exist. I don’t think any bidder has been warned off by it, but they’re asking if there is any more to come. At some point we’ll have to go to the football authorities and say, ‘Is this it or is there other things coming round the corner?’ It’s noise we could do without, but it’s necessary for the football club. We need to go through this.”
On the latest potential bidder, who emerged on Thursday evening, Clark was saying little apart from confirming that at no point has their name been mentioned in the newspapers since this process began. “There are more than three bids already lodged and we expect this one to be lodged early this week. There are parties that are keeping themselves to themselves and getting on with it.
“These people got in touch and we swapped non-disclosure agreements with them and they had access to our online data room on Friday. They made it clear they wouldn’t be in a position to make even an indicative bid by the deadline and they asked ‘does that mean we’re out?’ We said no. We’re happy to speak to people until we’re in a closed-out period. They’re not people I have dealt with before. They appear to be a credible party and we’ll see what their work over the weekend brings.”