The old guard: Souness poised for shock Rangers return as Whyte agrees to sell
22:40 GMT, 9 May 2012
Graeme Souness has been earmarked for a sensational Ibrox return by TWO of the groups trying to buy Rangers.
And disgraced owner Craig Whyte is set to clear the path for the former manager’s return by selling his majority shareholding in the stricken club for a pound.
Ibrox administrators Duff & Phelps are in advanced talks with two new bidders; the frontrunners a high profile English-based consortium and the other a group with past Rangers connections.
Old school: Graeme Souness and Walter Smith in 1987
It’s understood that both consortia have placed a Souness return at fhe heart of their plans – with the close friend of previous
bidder Brian Kennedy now at the heart of three of the four potential bids on the table.
Kennedy attended an Old Firm game at Ibrox in the company of the former fans’ favourite and, despite being rated the outsider, continued his own talks with Duff & Phelps.
Bill Ng, the Singaporean businessman who had a previous interest before withdrawing, is also back in the race following Bill Miller’s exit on Tuesday.
Hopes of selling the club by the end of the season have been increased after Whyte signed letters declaring that he will end his ruinous tenure for the nominal sum of a pound — the same sum he paid Sir David Murray to buy the club 12 months ago.
So far, however, Whyte has only signed agreements to sell his shares to two of the groups, with co-administrator David Whitehouse confirming news which removes a major obstacle to a quick sale.
‘We can confirm that, to our knowledge, there are written agreements in place with two of the bidders to transfer Craig Whyte’s shares,’ Whitehouse told Sportsmail.
'People say he is selling his shares, but he is doing that for a nominal consideration of a pound. So Craig Whyte is not going to benefit from this process.
‘But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Craig Whyte’s shares are only one hurdle towards a Company Voluntary Arrangement.’
The London-based consortium want to pursue a CVA to maintain the current Rangers infrastructure, while the other group — with Rangers links — would adopt Bill Miller’s incubator newco model.
Selling up: Craig Whyte will sell his shares for 1
‘We’ve had some quite detailed discussions with three of the four bidders,’ Whitehouse reported. ‘We’ve had discussions with all four, but only detailed discussions with three.
‘I would say, we are very positive in terms of being able to move those forward towards very-clear clarity this week. Hopefully, we will have more clarity tomorrow.
‘They are very real bidders and, although two of them are very late to the table, they are actually very advanced in their thought process, well engaged with advisors and well-funded. ‘They would, I believe, be popular with fans. Both bids.
‘They are known names in both football and in the Scottish community. There is certainly a more natural empathy with the club than Bill Miller had.
'There is a Rangers connection. ‘They want anonymity, but that will break over the next 24-48 hours. These bidders are in a position where they are well known and if they put their heads above the parapet there will be a crescendo of interest and support — and they don’t want that yet.
‘They will only do so if they are in a position of likely success.’
Asked if the London consortium were the frontrunners, as believed, Whitehouse remained cautious, stating: ‘Are they at the forefront They are certainly at a very advanced stage. But so are two of the others.
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‘Three of the four bidders are in the hands of lawyers. The lawyers have been instructed and there is documentation, etc.
‘Brian Kennedy is what I would describe as the fourth bid.’
Bill Ng, meanwhile, believes his Singapore-based consortium could land Rangers for half the sum he originally budgeted after confirming he had rejoined the race.
Sources in the Far East previously quoted Ng as saying he had set aside a total of around 20million for his initial rescue plan, based around a CVA. But he then
withdrew last month, citing problems agreeing a deal with Ticketus and complaining about the approach of administrators Duff & Phelps.
Ng is still regarded as an outsider but is now thought to be pursuing a newco route similar to Miller’s 11.2m collapsed bid.
‘It is really crazy,’ said Ng, chairman of Singapore club Hougang United. ‘There were something like 20 missed calls from Scotland on my phone when I woke up this
‘I am now told they are willing to accept 50 per cent of what I had initially offered. It seems they are now more receptive and no longer digging in their heels with unrealistic demands.
‘We’ve always said we are interested in Rangers but any deal that is concluded has to be realistic.'