Ticketus happy to keep options open

Ticketus remain happy to work with Paul Murray despite the former Rangers director announcing his Blue Knights consortium were taking a step back from the race to buy the club.

Ticketus remain happy to work with Paul Murray despite the former Rangers director announcing his Blue Knights consortium were taking a step back from the race to buy the club.

Murray last night announced they were leaving the coast clear for Bill Ng’s Singaporean group to complete a deal with administrators Duff and Phelps.

Murray took the decision after revealing his group were unable to match the offer Ng made to Ticketus, whose contract with the club gives them the right to £27million of season tickets over the next three years.

However, a spokesman for Ticketus said today: “Discussions with both bids are ongoing and ultimately we are prepared to work with whichever bid the administrators think is best for the club.”

It is understood Ticketus remain happy with the proposals on offer from the Blue Knights, which would see them recoup £10million of their money over a longer time period in return for helping to finance the deal.

The investment firm are also willing to work with Ng, who got in touch with the group because they are currently the biggest creditor, although Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs could be owed more should a tax tribunal go against Rangers.

Rather than be the deal-makers, Ticketus feel it is up to the administrators to decide who the preferred bidder is and they will react accordingly.

It is understood they have held no talks with the other interested party, US businessman Bill Miller.

Rangers majority shareholder Craig Whyte has also not spoken to Miller, who he claims prefer the option of liquidation and starting a new company rather than exiting administration through a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

The Blue Knights last night revealed they had been set to be named preferred bidder on Friday but Ticketus would not pay the non-refundable deposit, reported to be £500,000.

Murray’s group raised the cash themselves but amid the delay discovered Ng had made what he called a “substantially” better offer to Ticketus.

Murray added that they were not able to match Ng’s offer and were stepping back from the process in a bid to help Duff and Phelps agree a deal with the Singapore group and avoid liquidation.

Murray added: “We firmly believe that, in the best interests of the club, the whole process has to move forward as a matter of urgency.

“We are stepping back to assist with this but we stand ready to re-enter the process if a deal cannot be reached.”

Joint administrator David Whitehouse expressed his disappointment and surprise that the Blue Knights were “withdrawing”.

“At all stages of the process, the Blue Knights/Ticketus bid has been given the most serious consideration by us as administrators, particularly due to the fact that it was being encouraged by supporters’ groups,” he added last night.

“We are aware that Ticketus has also been, at their own instigation, in parallel discussion with one of the other bidders over the last few weeks and it remains to be seen whether these discussions will be taken forward.

“We can reassure supporters of the club that we look forward to making an announcement on a preferred bidder later this week, assuming no further hurdles are placed in our path.”

Meanwhile, Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy has declared himself ready to re-enter the race should a deal that includes a CVA fall through.

Kennedy, who saw his indicative bid rejected last month, said today: “I do not want to distract the time-critical process of appointing preferred bidders.

“However, should this fall through with the effect of endangering the existence of RFC, I would reconsider my position.”

Ng claims his consortium has not yet struck a deal with Ticketus and insists he will focus on his own bid rather than speculate about the Blue Knights’ decision to step back.

He told BBC Scotland: “We have not agreed on any terms with Ticketus at the moment.

“I do not want to speculate on the reasons of Blue Knights’ withdrawal but the apparent withdrawal from the bidding process by the Blue Knights means only that the chances of taking over increases for the two remaining bidders left in the process.

“The best interest for Rangers will be the best bid forward; we accept this as a matter of fact.

“I do not have the facts of what Mr Bill Miller has proposed.

“I only know what I can do and what my plans are for the club, if I am successful.

“I believe it is more important for me to stay focused at this point of time and prepare for our ground works, regardless of the result of the announcement by the administrators.”

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Ally McCoist admits the ongoing uncertainty over the club's future is ''really concerning and worrying'' and called for a quick resolution to the bidding process.

He told Blues News: “There obviously have been developments and it looks like the preferred bidder status has moved away from the Blue Knights and perhaps headed to either the American bid or the Singaporean bid.

“Obviously, like all Rangers fans, I think the sooner the preferred bidder status is announced would be a big, big step in the right direction.

“The uncertainty and the lack of clarity about the future is obviously really concerning and worrying for everyone, be that players, staff or fans.

“I can totally understand everybody’s concern and that’s why I’m hopeful that it will be sooner rather than later.

“I won’t lie to you. I’m really concerned and really worried because we have a lot of planning to do.

“We have pre-season games and hopefully we’ll try to arrange pre-season tours. All these things and players coming and going makes it concerning.”

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