St Mirren shun Craig Whyte approach

ST MIRREN last night revealed that they have decided not to proceed with negotiations on a takeover bid from a consortium with links to disgraced Rangers owner Craig Whyte.

Current director Ken McGeoch’s hopes of gaining control of the club have been ended after the Buddies’ board discovered the involvement of Gary Withey. Withey had been part of Whyte’s advisory team when he bought Rangers from Sir David Murray and he became the club secretary when the deal was completed ten months ago.

However, Withey, pictured, resigned as a partner in Whyte’s lawyers, Collyer Bristow, 16 days ago and has gone to ground. Duff & Phelps, the administrators Whyte appointed to run Rangers, have been unable to question Withey about the club’s financial position and the whereabouts of millions of pounds involved in the deal.

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Other Saints directors are concerned that a hostile takeover with connections to Whyte would – should Rangers be forced into liquidation – transfer the club to Ibrox as a newco, thereby spelling the end of St Mirren.

“We had an approach, as you know, way back last October,” said chairman Stewart Gilmour. “Ken McGeoch and Paul Davies and a silent partner were looking to purchase the club.

“They showed interest. Fine, no problem. Then in January, we got the lawyer company come to us, which so happened to be Gary Withey – at which point, we decided to let it go cold.

“I’ll be quite honest, as a club we didn’t want to become embroiled in the whole Rangers fiasco. It had all gone dead until this week. Mr McGeoch has come out and said he is still interested in buying the club and can put something together. That seems strange to me as two weeks ago it was dead.

“He has now appointed a new English lawyer, which seems strange. Why would you appoint an English lawyer when you are doing a Scots Law transaction?”

Gilmour and his colleagues remain keen to sell the club but only if they consider the new owners to be credible.

“Yes we want out, but we have a real interest and responsibility – look what has happened to David Murray,” he said.

“We are not running away. We are keen to go as the club needs fresh blood, but we are looking for a safe pair of hands and there is, obviously, a slight doubt there.”