Administrators wait on final bids for Rangers04/04/2012 - 08:07:59
Rangers’ administrators signalled there could be five bids for the club 24 hours ahead of this evening’s deadline – but confusion subsequently surrounded the intentions of one of the frontrunners.
Club 9 Sports played down their role in one of the main interested parties and then appeared to rule out a bid from that consortium.
Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy’s position also continues to be unclear, leaving a Singapore-based group and the Blue Knights as the only supposedly certain bidders.
Hours after joint-administrator David Whitehouse spoke of “four, possibly five” final bids, US-based Club 9 Sports spoke publicly for the first time to confirm they had been involved in a consortium considering a purchase.
They then went on to say they would not be “bidding for control of the club” before defending their rumoured preference of liquidation.
Their statement read: “It should be made clear that any party that attempts to acquire the club, eliminate the debts, affect a turnaround, invest monies and put the club back on solid ground is in fact ’saving’ the club from liquidation and preserving its past and its future.
“In an asset purchase, all of the good and valuable assets (records, marks, names, trophies, players, staff, history) are preserved and separated from the bad and harmful liabilities (tax bills, bad contracts, creditors), which have put the club into administration and which act to force the entirety into liquidation.”
Such a declaration could be assumed to be a statement of intent but Jon Pritchard, their chief executive, later tweeted:
“To further clarify, the US/UK group with whom we were working is not going to bid for Rangers.”
The confusion came after Kennedy reportedly claimed the Club 9 bid “scared the living hell out of him” as the reluctant initial bidder apparently considered resurrecting his interest.
Duff and Phelps hope to announce a preferred bidder next week but uncertainty surrounds numerous areas of the administration process, including the position of majority shareholder Craig Whyte.
Whyte has stressed this week that he will not be an obstacle to a sale, even to the Blue Knights despite his declared scepticism of former director Paul Murray, but he has also claimed he has £30m (€36m) of guarantees and cash on the line.
Meanwhile, Whitehouse has warned Murray that his partnership with Ticketus may not necessarily stand in his favour despite the fact he would remove them from the creditors’ pot.
In the absence of a decision on the club’s tax tribunal, Ticketus are the main creditor given they lay claim to £27m (€32.5m) worth of season tickets in the next three years, but Duff and Phelps have not ruled out ripping up the deal and have begun work on a second court challenge.
Whitehouse told daily newspapers: “In terms of the Blue Knights, they are a serious bid who have got to this stage. But they’re not the highest bid.”
Whitehouse said Club 9’s bid had “significant resources behind it” and could also include provision for a creditors agreement, but that was before their later statements.
Liquidation and the emergence of a new Rangers would leave the team facing a three-year European ban plus potential domestic sanctions and uncertainty over their place in the Scottish Premier League.
“A dialogue has been started with the SFA, SPL and UEFA – and a confidentiality agreement has been signed between them, so I can’t go into the detail of it,” Whitehouse said.
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