Rangers takeover: Bill Miller says it’s ‘time to save Rangers’
DEADLINES have not counted for much in this Rangers administration saga, but another one has been set for this Monday. Unusually perhaps, it has been imposed by one of the bidders for the imperilled club.
Key points of Miller bid:
• Formation of an ‘incubator’ company while administrators take club through a CVA
• Straight rejection of liquidation rumours
• £11.2m bid includes £500,000 deposit required by Duff & Phelps
• Offer is dependent upon assurances of no further punishment from governing bodies
• Ally McCoist will continue as manager
• No movement until Monday to allow other bidders to come forward
Bill Miller, the Tennessee-based tow truck tycoon, has attempted to raise the stakes and flush out those who want something other than what the American caustically referred to as “their 15 minutes of fame”. He wants his rivals – if there are any left – to “put up” by Monday, or else leave the way clear for the man who made his fortune from the manufacturing of powerful tow trucks. Miller is clearly dismayed by the amount of talking which has been done, to so far little effect. “There is no time left for empty promises and grandstanding,” he said. “Let’s save Rangers. There is no time left.”
With Singapore businessman Bill Ng withdrawing his bid yesterday morning, and Brian Kennedy having had a revised bid rejected 24 hours earlier, it appears the Blue Knights are the only potential rival to Miller. Ng, according to administrators Duff and Phelps, has indicated the possibility of launching another bid “at a later time” although the businessman said yesterday: “Recent developments in the bidding process, with unwarranted and unexplained delays, have prompted our withdrawal from the bidding process.”
Now, as everyone from manager Ally McCoist to PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart has reminded us in recent days, time is of the essence. Indeed, this weekend has already been billed as ‘last-chance weekend’. “I must stress that if it going to be a Blue Knights CVA [Company Voluntary Arrangement] then they do need to proceed with all speed over the weekend,” admitted joint-administrator Paul Clark last night.
If no one else has returned to the table by Monday, then administrators Duff and Phelps will be left with a single bid. It is an offer which has its origins in the wild west rather than the far east, where it had once been anticipated Rangers new owners might be based. “If that [the Miller bid] is the only acceptable bid then we would be prepared to proceed with Bill Miller early next week,” said Clark, who added that the timescale for a new owner has been shifted from the end of this season to before the start of the next campaign. “It will probably be in the close season now,” he admitted. Miller’s offer is not, however, the unconditional bid the administrators wanted. Indeed, the American’s proposal, which would create what he has described as “incubator” company, would be some way short of it, in fact, since it relies on written guarantees from the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Premier League that the club will not be hit with penalties next season. As Clark confirmed last night, Duff and Phelps are still to receive a bid that is “unequivocal”, and that includes the offer unveiled in great detail by Miller.
According to Clark, the bid “has potential”. There is plenty of reason for scepticism, however, with the question of SPL sanctions one significant stumbling block. Miller says he wants a written guarantee from both the SPL and SFA to confirm there will be no “further points deductions, fines or other punitive sanctions” beyond those already levied. The SPL do not meet until 30 April to discuss new financial fair play proposals relating to clubs in administration or going into liquidation.
Indeed, the devil can be said to lurk within the details which the American was happy to share yesterday. Clark accepted that Miller’s proposal will involve going down the dreaded newco route, although the American is adamant his solution, drawn up after several weeks of discussion with his advisors, protects Rangers’ history, since the heart of the club - the history, records, championships and assets - is put into an “incubator” company. Clark said that Miller is aware of the player exodus which could well be the result of such a procedure, since their registrations would become null and void. “There have been many discussions between Bill Miller and the football authorities, so I would hope and assume that he fully understands the implications,” the joint-administrator said.
Ibrox fans might be slightly heartened by the news he is seeking to cut out both Whyte and Ticketus, who gave the club £30.5 million in funds at the start of the majority shareholder’s tenure and is now a major creditor. “It is difficult for me to see how any parties who were present when this awful situation was created can be a legitimate part of the solution,” said Miller.
Whyte, though, will need to sanction the sale of 85.3 per cent share holding in the club. “Discussions have taken place regarding Craig Whyte’s shares and I think that, one way or another, these shares will be delivered,” said Clark last night. The joint-administrator also revealed that he had spoken with Whyte, who has not been seen in Glasgow since the day in February when he put the club in administration, earlier yesterday. “Prior to that it was about ten or more days ago,” he added.
After deciding a straight CVA would be too risky and prolonged, Miller claims he has found a solution. “I order to preserve the club’s history, records, championship and assets, I will put the ‘heart’ of the club into an ‘incubator’ company while Duff and Phelps works to make the sick patient healthy through a CVA process that effectively works to radiate the toxicity of past administrations’ sins out of the patient while the healthy heart is preserved and moves forward.”
At a later date, explained Miller, the ‘healthy heart’ and the Rangers Football Club plc will be re-united through a merger. “Once the CVA process has been completed and the patient is on the mend, the administrators will return Rangers Football Club plc to me for a nominal sum.” Rangers fans might have to accept what the American proposes, on the basis that there is no other deal on the table. Miller revealed that he intends to suspend his offer until Monday to allow other bidders to “put up or shut up”.
Paul Murray’s Blue Knights consortium have until the start of the week to make a decisive move to buy the club. It was revealed last night that the consortium is back in discussion with Ticketus, the financial firm which helped fund Whyte’s ill-fated takeover last May. “We are quite happy to continue discussions with Paul Murray and his Blue Knight colleagues over the weekend,” said Clark last night. “I have spoken to Paul Murray on two or three occasions today and have no problem with these discussions continuing over the weekend. If Paul Murray is still interested to talk, we’re interested to talk. But it now comes down to Monday. It has gone on long enough and we have to really bring it to a head once and for all.”
Brian Kennedy has also been invited to re-enter the bidding race if he desires to do so. However, there is no great expectations on the administrators’ part that this will happen.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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