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'Substantial' joint takeover bid gives Rangers hope


Two of the groups interested in taking over Rangers have joined forces to submit a "substantial" bid that could mean an end to the long-running crisis at that Ibrox giants.

The Blue Kights, headed by the former Rangers director Paul Murray, have teamed up with Brian Kennedy, the owner of the Sale Sharks rugby union team and yesterday at 3pm formally submitted their bid to the club's administrators Duff and Phelps.

The offer is conditional on a company voluntary agreement being reached with creditors and the purchase of the shares of the club's current owner Craig Whyte. But in a joint statement Murray and Kennedy stressed their eagerness to get things moving by adding: "We hope this is accepted so we can proceed with due diligence forthwith and make a start to the task of rebuilding Rangers Football Club of 1872."

It is understood that the Rangers manager Ally McCoist, who is preparing his side for a daunting Old Firm derby at Parkhead tomorrow, has been told by the club's administrators that they are close to striking a deal with a potential buyer, though no group has yet been specified.

Hopes of a takeover of the Premier League club were looking less and less likely of late. Kennedy had an initial bid rejected and was told that his most recent verbal offer was not acceptable. Meanwhile, the Blue Knights' hopes of taking over were hit when one of the creditors, Ticketus, pulled out of their joint takeover bid.

This week McCoist has even been talking of the club going into liquidation and a new company being formed with, the new club having to start again in the Scottish Third Division. This followed the imposition by the Scottish Football Association of a £160,000 fine on the club and a 12-month embargo on registering players over 17.

The club are currently appealing against the sanctions and Rangers supporters groups have discussed a boycott of SFA sponsors. Supporters are also planning to march on Hampden Park this weekend to press home their opposition to the fine and ban.

If the sanctions remain in place, the former Rangers manager Walter Smith has warned that Rangers could face relegation from the SPL, especially if a number of current players leave the cash-strapped club in the summer. McCoist agreed with his predecessor, saying: "I think it's a distinct possibility, absolutely. There is a big fear. The effect of the ban, for me, has far greater ramifications than a lot of people think.

"You would look at it and think 'well, they can't sign players for 12 months'. But there is a far bigger picture than that. It could kill our football club."