American launches bid for Rangers
Bill Miller has unveiled plans for an £11.2million bid for Rangers which would create what he described as an "incubator" company while Duff and Phelps bid to take the club out of administration through a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement.
In a statement, US-based Miller revealed he would suspend his offer until Monday to allow other bidders to "put up or shut up".
After deciding a straight CVA would be too risky and prolonged, Miller claims he has found a new solution.
The American businessman said: "In order to preserve the club’s history, records, championships and assets, I will put the heart of the club into an ‘incubator’ company while Duff and Phelps works to make the sick patient healthy through a CVA process that effectively works to radiate the toxicity of past administrations’ sins out of the patient while the healthy heart is preserved and moves forward."
Miller, whose statement came out hours after Singapore businessman Bill Ng withdrew his bid, revealed he was setting the record straight after seeing "inaccuracies" about his bid reported or intimated by others.
He said: "Most importantly, I am doing this now so that Rangers fans and supporters can judge my bid and plans for the club on their actual merits – rather than rumours and innuendo."
He said: "Despite constant rumours and suggestions by others, I have proposed a purchase of the club through a CVA from the beginning. I have no plans for liquidation of the club."
But he added: "All of the groundswell created in the attempt to indicate that a CVA is a simple solution to save the club and its history is simply a naive understanding of how this CVA process would work and the risks associated."
Miller revealed he had refused to speak to Craig Whyte or Ticketus, who gave the club £30.5million in funds during the majority shareholder’s tenure in return for future season ticket sales.
"It is difficult for me to see how any parties who were present when this awful situation was created can be a legitimate part of the solution," said Miller, who owns a Tennessee-based towing and vehicle recovery firm.
He believes Ticketus, who are owed £26.7million, would block any CVA, resulting in lengthy legal proceedings.
"This would place additional penalties on Rangers as long as they remain in administration," he said.
"Obviously, the longer the process dragged on without a resolution, the less viable the club would become. If this process continued on for a long period without resolution, the inevitable result would be real liquidation."
Miller then explained his "incubation" approach that he claims will save Rangers, protect its history and give it a fresh start.
He added: "Once the CVA process has been completed and the patient is on the mend, the administrators will return Rangers Football Club plc to me for a nominal sum.
"The healthy heart and the healthy patient (The Rangers Football Club plc) will then be reunited through merger."
However, Miller’s bid includes the condition that the Scottish Premier League do not impose sanctions on the club next season. The SPL meet on April 30 to discuss new financial fair play proposals relating to clubs in administration or going into liquidation.
Administrators Duff and Phelps have stressed to bidders that they needed "definitive, unconditional bids" in order to announce a preferred bidder.
Miller, who confirmed Ally McCoist would remain as manager in his plan, said: "I have held a series of talks over the past week with officials from the SPL and SFA in an effort to ensure Rangers play in the 2012/13 season without further points deductions, fines or other punitive sanctions, relating to either the terms of my purchase or the actions of the prior administrations, beyond those levied during the 2011/12 season.
"My offer is contingent upon the regulatory bodies agreeing that the club will begin play in the 2012/13 season in the SPL and that they will do so without any loss of points and with all historic titles intact. I will not acquire the club unless I receive written assurances from both regulatory bodies to this effect.
"It is my strong view that Rangers and their fans should not continue to be punished in the future for the past failures of others. Rangers need a fresh start and I will always stand up for the club.
"Although it was my intention to wire the required deposit tomorrow (Saturday) to secure preferred bidder status, I have notified Duff & Phelps that my offer is to be suspended until Monday to give anyone else interested in acquiring Rangers time to complete their bid and put down the £500,000 deposit," he said.
"I would not want anyone to have the impression that my offer is not the best one for the club. So I now put it to the other suitors who claim to want what is best for Rangers. If you sincerely want to save Rangers, the time has come for you to put up or shut up.
"I will agree to stand down until Monday to allow any and all ‘saviours’ to step up and claim the club by paying the required deposit and entering into an agreement to purchase. The time for talk is over. The club is in serious jeopardy of dying. ‘Real’ liquidation is looming.
"If no-one else steps up by Monday, then I will assume everyone is done talking and I am the only one serious about saving Rangers."
In the meantime, Miller will continue talks with the football authorities and encouraged Rangers fans, players and McCoist to give their opinions on his plans.
He finished his statement by saying: "Time is running out to save Rangers."
Ng earlier expressed frustration with Duff and Phelps as he withdrew, although he said he could relaunch his bid if no other deal was struck.
A statement said: "Recent developments in the bidding process, with unwarranted and unexplained delays, have prompted our withdrawal from the bidding process.
"After lengthy negotiations with a number of key stakeholders, we have serious concerns over the deliverability of the shares on offer to gain control of the club."
The chairman of Singapore top-flight club Hougang United had previously expressed frustration with Ticketus, who he claimed increased their demands from £10million to £17.5million but he expressed most disappointment with Duff and Phelps, accusing them of "moving the goalposts".
As well as the Ticketus liability and SPL proposals, areas of uncertainty around Rangers include the rights of majority shareholder Craig Whyte, an outcome on the tribunal over their potential £75million tax bill.
Ng said there was "no guarantee" his group would acquire Whyte’s 85% shareholding if they agreed a price.
The Blue Knights’ position is unclear with former Rangers director Paul Murray, who is spearheading their campaign, saying they were reconsidering their position on Wednesday after stepping back from the process on Monday to allow Ng to complete a deal.
The administrators told Kennedy they could not accept his revised verbal offer, which he claimed to have doubled to a "double digit million pound bid".
Speaking earlier, McCoist expressed hope of a quick resolution.
He said: "It’s only my opinion but I don’t think we can wait until anything like the end of May," said McCoist, who has spoken to Miller at length twice but never talked to Ng.
"It’s not up to me to have a preferred bidder. I have to remain completely and utterly open-minded about it.
"The only thing that I wish for is somebody who has the club’s best interests at heart to take it over.
"I would have no problem with anybody that I’ve spoken to taking it over because I do believe they have the club’s best interests at heart.
"My main concern is that we get a positive result. That’s all that matters."