BIDDERS for Rangers got on with the hard work of putting takeover packages together yesterday after administrator Paul Clark called for all potential buyers to “put their money where their mouth is”.
Bids are being invited in a bid to save the stricken Scottish champions and Clark is eager to identify “serious” suitors as soon as possible.
Clark has revealed takeover interest from America and the Far East, while the Blue Knights consortium, headed by former Rangers director Paul Murray, confirmed on Friday that it is putting together a rescue package in collaboration with Ticketus, the company who bought Rangers season ticket rights from Craig Whyte – funds which helped to achieve Whyte’s takeover at Ibrox last year.
Clark told the club’s website: “What we want is to have only serious bidders left by the end of the week.
“So anybody who has just been talking – and there are a few out there who have done a lot of talking – we want to seek them out and, as it were, put their money where their mouth is.
“Let’s get them round a table so we know how many parties we’ve got. I don’t care how many bidders we end up with but I want to know who they are, what they are and what their worth is, so then we can have more serious conversations about achieving the end goal which is to get Rangers under new ownership.
“This is the problem we have got, we have one or two parties prepared to talk to the media and then you have other parties who have been quietly and slowly and diligently getting on with their business behind closed doors outside of the glare of the media and we are taking them just as seriously as anybody who is on the front page of the newspapers saying, ‘I’m going to buy Rangers, you just watch’.
“If somebody wants to involve the media, that’s fine. And if they become the owner then they can sit on the front page of all the papers saying, ‘I did it’. But don’t be surprised if that owner isn’t one of the people who is media friendly.
“By the way, I am not ruling anybody out in this process, absolutely not. I’m just saying that nobody should assume that the only serious bidders are the ones who are in the public domain.”
While Clark made no mention of Murray, the Blue Knights interest is the most widely trailed in the media, and both Murray and Ticketus were quoted at the weekend on their interest. Murray did not return calls when contacted yesterday.
Clark added: “I don’t want to be specific about bidders but there is at least one party from the Far East and we’ve had some interest as well from the American continent.
“We’re talking about Scotland, wider UK and some overseas parties. There’s been a number of meetings over the last few days and more planned for next week. I’ve got two calls to two different parties over the weekend. We have an online data room for those parties so they can go in and take information over and above what we’ve told them in our meetings.
“You’ve got different people asking different questions. We hope and believe that a new owner will be installed before the end of the season so that it’s not us in charge at season’s end. That’s our objective.
“What we’ve done so that people realise they need to speed themselves up is to say that on Friday we want to receive absolute proof of your funding so we understand who you are and which camp you are in because some people have feet in various camps.
“We want to know who exactly has your money. More importantly, we want some form of indicative bid, so that will distil down however many parties we have got at the moment to the final few.”
Mass redundancies were prevented on Friday when all players accepted wage cuts of up to 75 per cent for the rest of the season while Mervan Celik and Gregg Wylde left voluntarily.
Clark says Rangers would have lost 20 players if the first-team squad had not agreed to pay cuts.
He told Sunday newspapers: “We were looking at the decimation of the squad.
“There was mention over the last week of between eight and 11 players being made redundant had the players not taken pay cuts. If we’d made eight to 11 redundancies we would have still needed 50 per cent pay cuts from the players who remained.
“If those cuts hadn’t been made, and I couldn’t do the sums until now, we would have been looking at cuts of up to 20 players in total.” At a press conference on Friday, it was put to Clark that players had requested a clause in their new contracts which stated that they would not accept the return of Whyte to Ibrox, but the administrator said he was unaware of such an arrangement.
At the weekend, however, Clark admitted that a ‘Craig Whyte clause’ does exist after all.
“I didn’t make it clear on Friday about this Craig Whyte clause,” said Clark. “I should make it clear now. It’s not in everybody’s contract but there are a number of players who did want a clause that said something like, should Craig Whyte either retain or regain control of the club then they would be entitled to a free transfer.
“That’s in there for a number fo them. More than a handful have that in their contracst, the ones who have most likely got value.
• Rangers administrator Paul Clark reckons that HMRC will not go for the jugular should the ‘big tax case’ rule in the government body’s favour.
Clark’s firm Duff & Phelps spoke twice with HMRC last week, and he said: “HMRC are not saying ‘we’re going to be difficult, we’re going to destroy value.’ why would they? It’s not in their interest or the taxpayers’ interest.
“I haven’t seen or heard that HMRC have said that RFC should cease to operate.
“They have never, ever, suggested that they are going to be belligerent. They are concerned at the manner in which the club was run most recently.”