RANGERS’ administrators have asked three remaining bidders for the club to submit “best and final offers” by Wednesday, while manager Ally McCoist has reiterated his opposition to any new owner choosing to liquidate the 140-year-old club.
Five parties notified Duff and Phelps of their interest in a takeover, although Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy dropped out of the running on Thursday after being told his bid was too low.
The administrators indicated they have yet to identify a preferred bidder from the current short-list, but it is understood that the three parties who remain in contention are former Ibrox director Paul Murray’s Blue Knights consortium, United States-based Club 9 Sports and a Singapore-based consortium.
David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the merits of individual bids but, in general, several parties have pursued their interest in the club and five bids have been subject to greater scrutiny.
“We understand the desire of supporters to see the bidding process concluded as soon as possible and have asked three bidders to submit best and final offers by Wednesday. It is likely a successful bidder will require a period of exclusivity to commit to final due diligence thereafter. Bids have inevitably been the subject of speculation but at this stage it would be unwise to perceive any party to be a preferred bidder, and the bidding process remains open until 4 April.”
Rangers’ administrators and Ticketus both welcomed a ruling on the status of their contract last week following a court case that revealed the Ibrox club received two payments totalling more than £30 million during Craig Whyte’s stewardship.
A judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh would not give directions on the administrators’ request to tear up the contract because Duff and Phelps held back information on bids so as not to undermine the process.
Administrators welcomed indications they would have the right to refuse to honour the deal if it was in the best interest of creditors. The judge’s ruling clarified the exact nature of the deals between Ticketus and Rangers chairman Whyte.
In his statement yesterday, Whitehouse added: “The direction from Lord Hodge in the Court of Session clarified important issues relating to the arrangement between Ticketus and Rangers and our powers in relation to contractual rights. This has allowed the bidding process to move away from the previous uncertainty the issue caused. The direction has also enabled us to have constructive discussions this week to confirm the levels of interest and the structure of any offers.”
McCoist meanwhile, can understand why a new owner of Rangers may want to liquidate the business, but is firmly against any moves to liquidate and reform the club as a new company. “Liquidation would not be my preferred option as a supporter and indeed the manager,” said McCoist as he prepared his team to face Motherwell at Fir Park today. “The best way to put it is, if I was sitting here as a businessman, it might be the way ahead. But sitting here as a supporter, with a love of the club, it wouldn’t be the preferred option.”