The Blue Knights, led by former Rangers director Paul Murray, released a statement saying they were “stepping back” from the process, although they did not rule out coming back to the table if a deal could not be reached with Ng.
It is understood the consortium had hoped to be named preferred bidder, but when asked to put up a non-refundable deposit of £500,000 for exclusivity, they failed to secure the funds from Ticketus – the firm who bankrolled Craig Whyte’s ill-fated takeover of the club by providing money offset against advance season-ticket sales. Ticketus are now in talks with Ng’s group, who, according to the Blue Knights, can together submit a superior financial package. American businessman Bill Miller’s bid also remains in contention.
Duff & Phelps – who still hope to name a preffered bidder this week – released a statement on Rangers’ website last night saying they were “surprised” by the development and insisted that the Blue Knights bid had placed them in “a strong position”.
A statement from the Blue Knights read: “On the evening of Thursday 12 April The Blue Knights Consortium was asked by Duff & Phelps to reconfirm its ‘best and final’ offer of 4 April. We reconfirmed our position and we believed that we would be awarded preferred bidder status on Friday morning.
“As part of the process of awarding exclusivity Duff & Phelps had requested a non-refundable deposit. During the course of Friday Ticketus informed us that they were not prepared to provide this deposit. During the course of the weekend individuals within the consortium offered to put up the deposit subject to a small number of conditions which were broadly agreed with Duff & Phelps. During the course of the weekend we were also made aware that Ticketus had been in discussions with the Singaporean consortium who, on Friday, had offered Ticketus a ‘substantially’ better deal to the one offered by us. We confirmed that we were not prepared to increase our offer to Ticketus which we believe to be in the club’s best interests. The consortium believes that the whole deal process has become incredibly complex and it is critical that a preferred bidder is appointed this week. As a consequence, and in the best interests of the club, the consortium has decided to take a step back to enable Duff & Phelps, Ticketus and the Singaporeans to conclude a deal as quickly as possible or not.
“We still believe that a partnership with Ticketus represents the best opportunity of the club exiting administration via a CVA. We firmly believe that, in the best interests of the club, the whole process has to move forward as a matter of urgency. We are stepping back to assist with this but we stand ready to re-enter the process if a deal can not be reached.”
However, Duff & Phelps responded: “We were surprised that their (Blue Knights) offer to pay an exclusivity fee was withdrawn and although discussions over the exclusivity fee continued over the weekend, no agreement was reached.
“At all stages of the process, The Blue Knights/Ticketus bid has been given the most serious consideration by us as administrators, particularly due to the fact that it was being encouraged by supporters’ groups. We are aware that Ticketus has also been, at their own instigation, in parallel discussion with one of the other bidders over the last few weeks and it remains to be seen whether these discussions will be taken forward.”
“We can reassure supporters of the club that we look forward to making an announcement on a preferred bidder later this week, assuming no further hurdles are placed in our path.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Football Association’s hearing into the alleged misconduct of both Rangers and Craig Whyte will begin tomorrow in the absence of the administration-hit club’s owner.
Whyte has again made it clear that “there is not a chance” he will make an appearance in front of a judicial panel at Hampden Park.
• Read the administrators’ statement on Rangers’ official website here