LATE BIDS EXPECTED FOR RANGERS
Rangers' administrators are anticipating up to five bids for the club before Wednesday's deadline for final offers.
Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy is reportedly weighing up an offer although he denied having submitted one already.
Joint-administrator David Whitehouse told the club's official website: "It could be we end up with at least four, possibly five bids being submitted."
Bids are expected from the Blue Knights consortium led by former Rangers director Paul Murray, US-based investment form Club 9 Sports and a Singapore-based group.
Whitehouse does not expect Craig Whyte to prove an obstacle to a deal being done, although the majority shareholder's intentions remain unclear.
Duff and Phelps expect to reveal the preferred bidder next week with that party then granted exclusivity in negotiating a sale.
Mr Whitehouse told rangers.co.uk on Tuesday: "We have been in detailed conversation with a number of parties over the last couple of weeks and the best and final bids are due to be submitted by tomorrow at 5pm.
"If it becomes clear after tomorrow's bids then we would want to be backing one horse very soon after Easter and then concluding a deal within a few weeks - in other words ownership change - and Rangers would come out of administration at that point.
"We need to have ownership change before the end of the season.
"I am told that Craig Whyte will not be an impediment to any deal."
Rangers' official website claimed Kennedy was a possible contender and he tonight refused to rule out a late offer.
Kennedy has consistently described himself as a reluctant runner and had his initial proposal rejected, but he reportedly told BBC Scotland today that the Club 9 Sports offer "scared the living hell out of him" and that he would submit an offer if he believed Rangers were heading for liquidation.
He released a statement through his rugby union side's spokesman, which read: "I have just spoken to Brian Kennedy who is on business in New York and he has advised me that he has not issued a revised bid regarding Rangers Football Club. If the situation changes Brian will advise me."
Whyte this week insisted he would co-operate with potential bidders including the Blue Knights, despite his stated scepticism over Murray's involvement.
He told Press Association Sport: "I have £30 million in cash and guarantees on the line but I would walk away if it is best for Rangers."
The administrators believe Whyte will not prove a barrier to the process and that they would have the final say over a preferred bidder, but uncertainty remains over his entitlements after he bought out Sir David Murray for £1 and apparently used advance season ticket sales to pay off the club's debt.
Paul Murray claimed he had struck a deal with Ticketus, who provided more than £30million of capital to Rangers during Whyte's reign, as part of his bid but final confirmation of that has not been forthcoming.
Ticketus are owed £27million over the next three years but administrators believe they have the right to tear up the deal if in the best interests of creditors, and could launch a second court challenge to the contract. Murray has claimed to have initiated a deal that would see Ticketus reclaim just £10million over a longer period.
The Blue Knights hope to avoid liquidation, which would leave any new club arising from the current club's carcass facing a three-year ban from European football and open to further domestic sanctions even if they retain Scottish Premier League status.
However, Whitehouse warned that any offer that relies on a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) must serve creditors better than a bid which leads to liquidation.
"Whilst we are mindful of the advantages of a CVA and that is our preferred outcome, there is economic consideration to be taken into account as well in that creditors will require the best return," he said.
"Therefore those purchasers who are keen to promote and deliver a CVA exit must also recognise the need for their proposals to be commercially competitive.
"It's about what level of percentage will be available to creditors at the end of the day.
"We are very mindful of the views of the supporters in terms of a CVA but in the absence of a CVA an asset sale would not result in the closure of the club. It would involve the football club continuing through a new limited company.
"Supporters shouldn't lose sight that a well-capitalised club moving forward is a legitimate long-term proposal for someone to put forward.
"The downside to an asset sale could be SFA and SPL sanctions which are undetermined."
Meanwhile, administrators will tomorrow publish their initial report on the club's official website with creditors given an opportunity to vote on that by April 20.
Joint-administrator Paul Clark said: "For clarification this is not a creditors' meeting at which a Company Voluntary Arrangement will be proposed,nor will any other form of exit from administration be determined at this juncture.
"Such matters will be formally considered once the sale process has reached a conclusion."
(reopens) Club 9 Sports later confirmed they had been involved in a consortium looking at buying Rangers but said they themselves would not be bidding for control of the club.
In a statement on their website, they said: "We can confirm that representatives of Club 9 Sports have been involved with investigating, analysing and considering a potential purchase of Rangers Football Club, plc on behalf of a group of interested parties from the US and UK.
"However, at no time has Club 9 Sports itself offered a bid to acquire the club. Our role has been as a member of a proposed consortium.
"We can also confirm that we have not met with, spoken to or otherwise been associated with Craig Whyte in any way.
"Furthermore, Club 9 Sports will not be bidding for control of Rangers Football Club, plc."
The US group, who have been involved in failed investment bids in Tranmere and Sheffield Wednesday, went on to address the subject of liquidation.
"We understand that it has been strongly rumoured that our group planned to 'liquidate' the club," the statement continued.
"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.
"By putting all of the assets into a different corporate structure, the assets are in fact rescued from liquidation.
"Such a transaction would be very similar to the one that occurred at Leeds United in 2007, which simultaneously rescued that club, maintained its proud history and allowed the club to shed its debt burdens so that it could have the opportunity for future success."
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