Rangers in crisis: Paul Murray planning last-gasp bid

Blue Monday! 'Day of destiny' in the battle to save crisis club Rangers

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 22 April 2012

Paul Murray is battling to put together an eleventh-hour deal to save Rangers — after serious doubts emerged over the viability of the only concrete bid on the table.

The leader of the Blue Knights consortium has spent the past three days talking to Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy and finance firm Ticketus in an attempt to thrash out an offer to rival that of American Bill Miller.

Sources close to the deal said they were ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the ‘finer details’ could be thrashed out in order to lodge a concrete bid with administrators Duff & Phelps by the close of play on Monday.

Hope: Paul Murray is working to re-enter the bidding race for Rangers

Hope: Paul Murray is working to re-enter the bidding race for Rangers

It’s understood there is broad agreement over the main strands of the proposal and that a mechanism is now in place to pay the 500,000 deposit required to obtain preferred-bidder status.

Tennessee tow-truck tycoon Miller tabled a conditional 11.2million bid on Friday containing the proviso that he would get ’written guarantees’ from the game’s authorities that a newco version of the stricken club would ‘play in the SPL in season 2012-13 without any loss of points and with all historic titles intact’.

Miller claimed that he had been involved in ‘dialogue’ with both the SFA and the SPL — a statement later contradicted by sources at Hampden.

Reports over the weekend claimed that Miller had ‘cut a deal’ with the SPL to take a new version of the club back in to the top flight with ‘limited football sanctions’.

However, although SPL sources confirmed that they had spoken to ‘a number of parties’, they flatly denied any such agreement had been reached.

That, therefore, raises fundamental questions over the likelihood of Miller remaining at the table, although it is anticipated he will be givem preferred-creditor status if the Blue Knights don’t come forward by virtue of being the last man standing.

Question marks: Bill Miller

Question marks: Bill Miller

Miller’s plans raised eyebrows given that, next Monday, the 12 SPL clubs will vote on suggested new sanctions for newco clubs who wish to keep their place in the top flight in a different guise.

Penalties of 10 points for two seasons and a loss in commercial revenue of 75 per cent for three years are on the agenda.

Eight and 11 votes are required to carry the motions respectively.
The SPL have also yet to finalise their investigation into the alleged ‘double-contract’ saga surrounding the stricken Ibrox club, making any pre-emptive ‘deal’ with any prospective owner impossible.

It has been suggested that a number of players were partly paid through Employee Benefit Trusts starting as early as the mid-1990s.

If it is proven that these were excluded from players’ contracts lodged with the SPL and the SFA, the Ibrox club could face a range of sporting sanctions.

The SFA’s investigation is currently on hold as they would be the appeal body to whom Rangers would dispute any decision by the SPL.

Until the outcome of the SPL investigation is known and, if appropriate, any sanction is imposed, potential new owners like Miller cannot be given any guarantee as to what, if any, penalties they could inherit.

Miller’s proposal, which was revealed last Friday, would see Rangers effectively split into two companies for an indeterminate period of time.
He would attempt to move the assets like the players and stadium from the old company to the new one — while simultaneously working towards agreeing a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

Once a CVA had been agreed, his intention would be to ‘marry’ the two companies once again.

Paul Murray’s plan has always been to
try to exit administration via a CVA. He was on the brink of being
awarded preferred-creditor status last week until it emerged that
Ticketus would not come up with the 500,000 non-refundable deposit
administrators Duff & Phelps were demanding.

It
then emerged that Ticketus had been holding talks with the Singaporean
consortium led by Bill Ng — a development that saw the Blue Knights
temporarily step back from the negotiating table.

Out of the running: Bill Ng withdrew his offer for Rangers last week

Out of the running: Bill Ng withdrew his offer for Rangers last week

Ng then withdrew, however, forcing Ticketus — who paid disgraced Rangers owner Craig Whyte 24.4m for tranches of future season tickets — to re-open negotiations with the Murray consortium.

Murray believes that having Ticketus as part of the consortium helps the Blue Knights’ chances of a CVA being agreed as it takes Ticketus out of the creditors’ pot.

In order for a CVA to be agreed, 75 per cent of creditors, voting on a pound-per-vote basis, must approve it.

However, if the so-called ‘big tax case’ finds against Rangers before any creditors’ vote is taken, HMRC would hold the veto over any CVA agreement.

The Blue Knights believe that having Ticketus on board will also bolster their chances of securing Whyte’s 85-per-cent shareholding that he acquired from Sir David Murray a year ago.

Whyte has previously claimed that he is ‘personally on the line for 27.5m’ as a result of the Ticketus deal.

However, he could satisfy the London-based finance company’s demands without the need for a messy and prolonged court action if he was to offer his shareholding as part of a settlement.