Andrew Ellis in talks with David Murray but bid yet to be lodged

A STATEMENT made to the Stock Exchange last night confirmed that a consortium led by Andrew Ellis are in "advanced negotiations" to buy a controlling interest in Rangers.

However, no timeline has been mentioned, despite one report yesterday which claimed the club could be in new hands by Friday. This was played down by a senior source at Ibrox yesterday, who reported that discussions with a group led by Ellis were still on-going. A fee of 33 million is believed to be required to buy the club from owner Sir David Murray.

The statement by RFC Holdings, which was released to the Stock Exchange at 6.21pm last night, made it clear that the process is far from complete.

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"RFC, which is controlled by Andrew Ellis, notes today's press reports regarding discussions between the company and Sir David Murray," it read. "The company confirms that it is in advanced negotiations with Sir David Murray to acquire a controlling interest in Rangers Football Club Plc, however no price has been agreed and no timing has been established for the conclusion of the talks. It is emphasised that this announcement does not amount to a firm intention to make an offer."

A senior source at the Ibrox club had earlier dismissed a claim that Rangers are on the brink of being sold. A document dubbed 'Project Charlotte' – with reference to Murray's business HQ in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square – is described as being a 'secret memo' detailing an agreement that has been struck in principle with Murray, helped by investment provided by Middle East backers. It also claimed manager Walter Smith, who signed a new one-year contract with Rangers only a fortnight ago, would be handed a summer transfer window "war chest" of 10 million.