BLUE KNIGHTS WITHDRAW RANGERS BID

Paul Murray has confirmed the Blue Knights have withdrawn their bid to buy Rangers.

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Paul Murray: Rangers bid withdrawn

Paul Murray: Rangers bid withdrawn

The Blue Knights have withdrawn their bid to buy Rangers.

Former Ibrox director Paul Murray told a press conference on Friday they had failed after weeks of negotiations.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist earlier said that administrators had told him they were "very close" to naming a preferred bidder.

Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, one of the Blue Knights, later valued their final bid at £11million and revealed they had lined up former managers Walter Smith and Graeme Souness to join a football board of the club.

The Knights were offered preferred bidder status several weeks ago but potential partners Ticketus would not pay the £500,000 exclusivity fee.

After joining with Kennedy and without Ticketus, the consortium was then beaten to preferred bidder status by American Bill Miller, who subsequently withdrew.

On Thursday night Kennedy issued a noon ultimatum to administrators Duff and Phelps but the race to assume control appears to have been won by a consortium with previous experience of running football clubs in England.

Murray explained they felt they had no option but to withdraw after fearing their chances of securing a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) had passed.

He said: "We see the only way forward for the club is to effect a CVA and unfortunately time has run out.

"There is no time left to effect a successful CVA and to exit the club in a healthy capacity from that process.

"We told Duff and Phelps that on a number of occasions. The process has gone on far, far too long for various reasons.

"We told them last night they had until midday today to come back to us.

"They came back and wanted more time. They claim to have another interested party."

Murray added: "We said we hoped they have made the right choice. "We really hope this time they have got it right because if they haven't the future is pretty bleak."

Kennedy added: "The administrators better have somebody good, some good credible consortium who is fully funded.

"This is not about us owning Rangers Football Club. It's about Rangers Football Club surviving.

"I'd be delighted if Duff and Phelps are able to pull one out of the hat and come up with a fantastic bidder. I fear they may not be able to do that."

The Blue Knights' bid was previously conditional on acquiring Craig Whyte's 85% shareholding and he spent three hours with the former chairman at his Granton-on-Spey Castle on Thursday.

"He wants Rangers to survive and agreed to give me his shares," Kennedy said.

Both accused Duff and Phelps of "spin" and questioned why a group with close connections to the club had been overlooked.

"Quite frankly there has been a lot of misinformation and spin created in this process," Murray said.

"The people involved here all have Rangers' interests at heart. This is not a way to make your fortune.

"I find it perplexing that Duff and Phelps actually go about to try to question why we are doing things and misrepresent us. I find that bizarre."

Kennedy and Murray both fear the English-based consortium, news of which emerged after Miller withdrew on Tuesday, could now pull out next week.

Kennedy stressed their legal team told them that time had run out to effect a CVA in time to come out of administration before next season.

Murray added: "The very fact they have come to the party at the last minute just doesn't seem right to me."

Reports claim former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green has links with the consortium who now appear to be in pole position.

McCoist, speaking earlier ahead of his team's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash against St Johnstone on Sunday, said: "I spoke to the administrators on the phone this morning and they are very encouraged.

"They have told me they are very close again to naming a preferred bidder.

"There are two new potential purchasers who have come into the fray and I believe Brian Kennedy has been speaking to the administrators as well."

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