RANGERS administrators moved quickly on Tuesday evening in an effort to reassure supporters that there remains interest in the crisis club, following confirmation that Bill Miller had stepped away from the bidding process.
Duff & Phelps revealed that three new expressions of interest have been made to the administrators “as a consequence” of Miller’s bid to buy the club being accepted last Thursday. Duff & Phelps now intend to evaluate these offers with what they describe as the “utmost urgency” following Miller’s withdrawal.
They have even expressed the hope that a deal to complete the purchase of the club can be achieved before the end of the season, which, as far as Rangers are concerned, is on Sunday. Duff & Phelps sought to deny claims that the process of finding a preferred bidder is now in disarray. However, they have admitted that time and money is now running out for Rangers, who have lost £2.5 million since entering administration on 14 February.
“As in any company takeover, the selection of a preferred bidder does not guarantee the completion of the sale,” said joint administrator David Whitehouse. “In this case, with time and money for Rangers running out quickly, it was essential to move the process forward with urgency. Mr Miller’s bid was deliverable to creditors and was the only deliverable bid on the table at that time. We had no other unconditional bid.
“Given the fact that Mr Miller did not enter into an exclusivity agreement, we informed all other known potential bidders at the time the door was not closed,” he added.
Of the three new bidders, one is understood to be from Britain and the other two from abroad. They are believed to be new bidders, rather than fresh interest from Brian Kennedy and/or the Blue Knights, the consortium led by former Ibrox director Paul Murray. Neither Murray or Kennedy, who is currently in the States, were available for comment last night. Administrators opted for Miller’s £11.2 million bid over a rival offer from Sale Sharks owner Kennedy and the Blue Knights.
The American had been hopeful of completing his takeover by the end of the season, albeit he was seeking clarification over sanctions imposed on Rangers by the football authorities. The Scottish Premier League postponed a vote on proposed financial fair-play regulation for a second time on Monday.
The general meeting is due to be reconvened on 30 May, by which time Miller will have moved on from an episode that had opened his eyes to the intense environment that is Scottish football. He expressed some regret that he will now never walk into Ibrox on the day of an Old Firm match. “My friends tell me the hair on my arm will stand up and I will never witness such passion and spirit at any sporting event,” he said in a statement, before signing off with a sentiment which wished the club well: “God Speed, Rangers!”
Duff & Phelps confirmed that Miller ended his interest in the club because he was “uncomfortable” with a number of issues. Reports that Miller had decided against purchasing the Ibrox club, having been named the preferred bidder last week, emerged yesterday afternoon.
Miller then released a statement in which he revealed his concerns at the true state of the club’s financial plight. “Upon being named preferred bidder, discussions with Rangers staff started and discussions with all interested parties intensified,” he explained. “We continued to work through the holiday weekend in order to meet a very compressed schedule. By late Monday night, it became clear to me that preliminary information, discussions and analysis were, unfortunately, more optimistic than reality.” This unease was compounded by the backlash from some Rangers fans, who he said had “delivered the message loud and clear – Yanks go home!”.
His advisor, Jon Pritchett, chief executive of Club 9 Sports, said that Miller felt like it was a “pretty unwelcoming environment”, and this was before putting in place the austerity measures he felt were required to revive the club.
“It would take a fairly large amount of money to keep it from dying,” said Pritchett, whose Club 9 Sports were initially involved in a consortium with Miller before announcing they had pulled out.
“There are big legacy costs as a result of doing things poorly over a number of years, structural and commercial problems.
“It would be a hard time turning things around and implementing structural changes and discipline. Such changes would have made Bill very unpopular given the way things have operated.
Pritchett added: “He [Miller] would have had to do a lot of things that would make him less popular. With that combination of factors, Bill asked himself if it was really worth spending part of his children’s inheritance on this. He decided this morning that it wasn’t.”
Whitehouse admitted it was “regrettable” that more progress could not have been made to further the sale of the club.
“We have been informed by his [Miller’s] advisors that there were a number of issues with which he felt uncomfortable including legacy contracts, the limitation of potential revenue streams and the expectation of required investment,” said the joint administrator.