Duff & Phelps, the Rangers administrators, are currently weighing up the offers received last week and could select a preferred bidder as early as tomorrow.
The Scotsman understands that the Blue Knights consortium, which is favoured by many Rangers supporters and is backed by three of the club’s supporter groups, has been in recent contact with Whyte, contrary to belief that the Rangers owner would not entertain selling his shares to Paul Murray. The former Rangers director is the public face of the Blue Knights. Murray and Whyte have traded insults in public since the latter’s bid to buy the club was preferred over Murray’s offer by the then owner Sir David Murray last year. However, Whyte has been in talks with representatives from the Blue Knights consortium, which is also allied to Ticketus, the financial firm that funded the businessman’s ill-fated takeover. “I’ve said I won’t stand in the way of a takeover and that remains my position,” Whyte said yesterday. “I am assuming that a preferred bidder can be announced subject to a deal being done with me.”
“Best and final” offers were received last week by Duff & Phelps, who took over the running of the club after Whyte put Rangers into administration on 14 February. Joining the Blue Knights in the race to purchase the Ibrox club are American tow truck tycoon Bill Miller and a Singapore-based consortium, fronted by Bill Ng, who is the chairman of Hougang United in his homeland.
Ng believes he can offer the club’s creditors as much as 20 pence in the pound and secure a crucial Company Voluntary Agreement. He has already begun courting the fans by claiming to have fallen in love with the club when, as a 12-year-old, he watched the Ibrox side lift the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 on television in Singapore.
The administrators remain confident that a CVA can be put in place, despite recently revealing that the club could owe as much as £134 million.
The situation has been complicated by a report earlier today
that Rangers director Andrew Ellis has launched a legal action against Whyte and is demanding as much as a quarter of the club’s shares. Ellis has claimed that he was promised a 24.9 per cent stake in Rangers as a reward for helping Whyte buy out Sir David Murray’s 85.3 per cent holding last May. He now claims he is rightfully co-owner of Rangers.
However, a source today said that Ellis is not likely to block any imminent sale of Rangers, having assured the administrators that he will not be an “impediment” even in the event that he is successful in his action against Whyte, who is still very much control of his majority shareholding. Ellis was appointed a non-executive director at Rangers in January by Whyte.
“I am owed 24.9 per cent of the entire club’s shares and I will be suing Craig Whyte for it,” said Ellis, who revealed he had been trying to sort the situation out for the last nine months, without success.
“This was part of the initial agreement prior to the takeover and I have correspondence to prove it. At the time the solicitors sent all the documents through, Craig accepted the fact that I was getting 24.9 per cent of the club.
“My lawyers wrote to Craig on Thursday about this and we are awaiting his response. I do not trust his intentions for the football club and I want to do what I can to make sure the best interests of Rangers are being looked after.
“That’s why I have been actively engaged in talking to one of the bidders. I’ve been trying to assist them in their efforts to save the club as I am so disappointed with all the damage that Whyte has done.”