Whyte close to Rangers takeover

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The Independent Online

Scottish tycoon Craig Whyte's bid to buy Rangers remains on course and a takeover could yet be completed by Christmas. Whyte is set to hold further talks with current owner Sir David Murray, although it is understood that no date or venue has yet been confirmed for that meeting.

Reports suggest the 39-year-old, who made his money as a venture capitalist and is now based in London, is expected to travel to Scotland to meet Murray this week. However, the bad weather means doubt hangs over the prospect of any talks taking place over the next couple of days.

The complex and lengthy due diligence process is ongoing and, when completed, Whyte will decide whether to make a formal offer for the Scottish champions. It is believed that everything is going as expected and a takeover could still be completed by Christmas or early in the New Year.

Whyte, a Rangers fan, confirmed in a statement to the stock exchange last month that he was considering making an offer for Rangers and was in talks with Murray International Holdings. It is believed Whyte would take over 75 per cent of Murray's shareholding, with London-based property developer Andrew Ellis becoming a 25 per cent partner.

Ellis was previously involved in a failed bid to buy the club earlier this year. It is understood that Rangers' debt will be wiped out and significant funds made available for new players if Whyte succeeds with his buy-out of the club.

A sum of around £25m could be made available over five years for investment in team development, although Walter Smith, the manager, is unlikely to be given a massive transfer kitty in January even if a deal is concluded by then.

The club's debt, which stood at £27.1m on 30 June, would be paid off and an additional £5.5m would be offered to shareholders.

Meanwhile, striker Nikica Jelavic hopes to return for Rangers in time for the 2 January Old Firm derby with Celtic. The 25-year-old Croatian, who signed for £4m in August, required ankle surgery after being injured in the 2-1 win at Hearts on 2 October but is now stepping up his rehabilitation.

Jelavic said: "My injury is getting better and better and I hope that I can be fit again in January so I will start to play. I have only been walking with the physios recently but very soon I want to be running again and get back into serious training.

"Normally, you should not play for three months after an operation so, with this being the case, the Celtic game will probably be my target.

"Right now I still need time but it would be nice to be back in the squad for this game. Whatever happens I just want to get back playing. I want to help my team-mates as quickly as possible because they helped me settle in Scotland and that has helped me so much.

"From the first game I think I showed that I can play for Rangers and that I can score a lot of goals but I want to prove myself more and more here."

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