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Rangers director Paul Murray reveals rival deal to buy club as Craig Whyte bid falter

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Apr 20 2011 Exclusive by Keith Jackson


DIRECTOR Paul Murray last night emerged as the mastermind behind a new bid to take over Rangers ââ?¬â?? but he faces a battle to persuade Lloyds Bank to accept his proposal.


The shock new bid is the reason Craig Whyte�s planned buy-out has been delayed but it does not yet have the backing of Lloyds.


Murrayâ��s camp claim their takeover would provide new boss Ally McCoist with an instant �£25million war chest.


But Whyteâ��s people hit back last night, claiming their bid is worth �£52.5m. And a source close to Whyte also suggested if he is forced to further delay his attempt while Rangers directors scrutinise Murrayâ��s plan it might be too late.


The source said last night: ââ?¬Å?He will not wait much longer.ââ?¬Â


Record Sport understands Murray has assembled a consortium of wealthy Rangers fans who are willing to pledge a small fortune to get the club back on its feet.


Financial expert Murray wants new shares to be released and has told the Rangers board his group have the cash in place to underwrite the scheme to the tune of Ã?£25m ââ?¬â?? all of which would then be pumped into McCoistââ?¬â?¢s first-team coffers.


But the plan hinges on Lloyds keeping the current credit facility in place and allowing the Ibrox debt to be repaid in instalments.


The bank still favour Whyte�s bid because it guarantees them their money and Murray still has to persuade them to back his offer.


Murray made his move after holding crisis talks with current owner Sir David Murray last week.


It is understood Murray, who was at Tannadice last night to watch his team take on Dundee United, now plans talks with Sir David and Lloyds in a bid to thrash out a deal.


But the word last night was that Murray ââ?¬â?? who teamed up with exiled Rangers director Dave King in a failed Ã?£18m bid for Murray Internationalââ?¬â?¢s shareholding in 2009 ââ?¬â?? wants to do business quickly.


Murray, 46, has almost two decades of experience in the private equity industry, working for companies including 3i plc and Deutsche Bank in executive positions.


We understands his shock ââ?¬Å?plan Bââ?¬Â proposals have already gained support at boardroom level and also with the current management.


A source close to Murrayââ?¬â?¢s group told us: ââ?¬Å?Paul felt it was time to act with a matter of urgency.


ââ?¬Å?He has now acted and is looking to get everything finalised as quickly as possible. There is no reason why this canââ?¬â?¢t be concluded in a four to six-week timescale.


ââ?¬Å?This is a credible and real solution to the situation which is crippling Rangers.


ââ?¬Å?Paul expressed an interest a while ago, as was reported at the time. It came to nothing but things have deteriorated a lot since then. When Craig Whyte arrived on the scene Paul was open-minded. He was prepared to try to help the guy.


ââ?¬Å?But itââ?¬â?¢s been dragging on for six months, meanwhile the situation at the club has been getting worse.


ââ?¬Å?That is why Paul acted last week. He felt things had reached the point of no return.


ââ?¬Å?He loves the club and he could not stand back and allow this crisis to continue. The situation inside the club is critical.


ââ?¬Å?He would not put his name to this if he wasnââ?¬â?¢t confident of getting it done.ââ?¬Â


Murray�s move came to the fore yesterday in a statement from club chairman Alastair Johnston which was also made to explain to supporters why his board have moved to block Whyte�s takeover until the end of the season.


Whyte had hoped to conclude the deal on Monday afternoon but the independent five-man board set up to run the rule over any bids refused to pass his offer.


They donââ?¬â?¢t have power of veto but business etiquette and boardroom politics means they can delay the process further ââ?¬â?? to allow Murray time to make his move.


The independent board will have to examine and question Murray�s plan just as they have tried to do with Whyte�s package.


And Johnston, in a statement last night, hinted the documents detailing Whyte�s offer did not add up.


Whyte�s team then claimed that any suggestions he didn�t have the money or funding he said he could provide were not only untrue but defamatory.


Whyte was said to be furious about the further delay but the independent board ââ?¬â?? Johnston, chief executive Martin Bain, finance director Donald McIntyre and non-executive directors John McClelland and John Greig ââ?¬â?? insist they have only recently been able to look at the detailed agreements which David Murray, Lloyds and Whyte have been working on.


And it is fair to say they are far from happy or convinced.


Johnston said: ââ?¬Å?Based on the documents we have only been able to review within the last week, we are disappointed they did not reflect the investment in the club that we were led to believe for the last few months would be a commitment in the purchase agreement.


ââ?¬Å?Given the requirement to repay the bank in full under the proposed transaction, there appears to be only a relatively modest amount of money available that would positively impact the clubââ?¬â?¢s operations, especially as it relates to an urgent requirement to replenish and upgrade the playing squad.ââ?¬Â



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By Tom English

So this is how it is all going to end, is it?

Paul Murray, who has been sleeping with his undoubted wealth kept firmly under the mattress for the three years and more that Rangers have been on the market, has suddenly decided to invest �£25million in buying the club. Murray and others. A consortium, Dave King rumoured to be one of them. King, the Scot in exile in South Africa, the people's champion at Ibrox.


So how will it work, then? The consortium pay-off Lloyds Banking Group and, with the rest of their �£25m, they buy Sir David Murray's shares and wave him goodbye. Then they do a share issue, raise tens of millions of pounds, and live happily ever after. Er, no.


First of all, there is the beginning of a new round of speculation as to who else is behind Murray and King. In fact, let's just stop at King for a second. Johnston is said he is worried about the finances of the Whyte proposal. Well, let's take a little trip to South Africa why don't we?


It's typical of this saga that the image of the Whyte Knight is less believable for some at Ibrox than the vision of King Dave, a man who the South African Revenue Services are still hounding for an alleged tax bill of �£240m and about whom a respected judge in their legal system has had this to say recently: "We saw King testify in chief and in cross-examination for four days and are unanimous in finding that he is a mendacious witness whose evidence should not be accepted on any issue unless it is supported by documents or other objective evidence.


"It was remarkable that King showed no sign of embarrassment or any emotion when he conceded that he had lied to the Commissioner in a number of his income tax returns.


"In our assessment he is a glib and shameless liar."


From the very start of the Rangers takeover saga, when a chap called Graham Duffy bounced on to the scene and declared he was going to front the purchase of the club without actually investing a brass farthing of his own money, this tortured business has had an element of farce about it. Never more so than yesterday.


Early morning began with tormented Rangers fans denouncing Alastair Johnston, the Ibrox chairman, for putting the brakes on Craig Whyte's bid to buy the club.


In early evening, in the time it took them to read his statement on the matter, the same Johnston changed from villain to hero in the supporters' eyes, from the man who was castigated on every Rangers forum for putting the club's very existence into doubt by stalling Whyte's prospective takeover to a champion who had at his heart the best interests of the club.


The sale of Rangers was convoluted before yesterday. Now it's convoluted and bitter. In his statement, Johnston attempted a controlled explosion of Whyte's credibility as a man of sufficient means to take the club forward in a meaningful way. It was bizarre and possibly dangerous to the future of the club. There may still be a lot of secrecy about Whyte's business plan for Rangers, but it is an indisputable fact that he has proven he has the funds to buy Murray's shares and pay-off the debt owing to Lloyds Banking Group. As far as bona fides go, that's not a bad start. Johnston accepts that Whyte has the wherewithal to end the Murray era and bring a conclusion to the divisive relationship with Lloyds.


Whyte has deposited �£28m as proof of his financial clout. He has spent a large six-figure sum on lawyers and accountants and due diligence stretching back six months. He has said publicly, more than once, that he is committed to investing �£25m over five years on new players. He has stayed in the game and has worked out a "mechanism" to deal with whatever HMRC may through at the club. He has stayed in the deal, also, despite the nasty little surprise of a �£2.8m unpaid tax bill was discovered. He has hung around and inched things forward despite all of that and regardless of the two UEFA charges of sectarian chanting that are hanging over the club at present.


Unless he's a complete madman - spending millions on getting rid of Lloyds and Murray and then not bothering to invest in the business he has just bought - then we must assume that he is going to do what he says. He has hung his reputation on delivering what he has said. What is Johnston thinking? That Whyte will take control of the club and then go, "HaHa! Fooled ye all! I don't have another bob to my name! We're all going down in flames!"


At the very least, he deserves a bit more respect than he got from Johnston yesterday. It was hard to know what infuriated Whyte the most when he read what Johnston had to say; the chairman's rather one-eyed appraisal of things or the final paragraph of his statement which painted Whyte as an understanding soul whose reaction to the bombshell of being told about a rival bidder was all very amicable and constructive. It was not.


The truth is that Whyte spent much of yesterday in anger at Johnston before his anger gave way to a determination to stay involved in the deal. In early evening a source close to Whyte was saying that the directors "had better be careful what they wish for" in connection with the proposed second bidder.


Later, his mood was said to be focused on getting the deal done rather than departing the scene.


There is a problem with Johnston, though. In effect, what Johnston was doing was telling Whyte yesterday was to go and wait in the corner while the

Rangers vetting party consider the merits of the new player in town, Paul Murray with a rumoured backing from King. Had Whyte told him to get stuffed he would have been within his rights.


The attention now turns to Paul Murray and his cohorts and to what Sir David Murray and Lloyds make of their interest. It is suggested that the first that Whyte knew about it was when Johnston released his statement, though it was already known by some journalists at that point. Whyte would have understandable cause to be annoyed at being kept out of the loop.


The new interested party are at an early stage in their thinking, hence Johnston wanting to put the whole thing off until after the end of the season. It is, of course, a huge gamble on the chairman's part. Whyte still wants to buy the club but if he feels he's being taken for a ride by the directors he may still withdraw. That's the great fear. That Whyte disappears and then the other bidder finds that they can't deliver the money. Rangers would be back to Square One at that point.


What Lloyds make of all this will be interesting. They have a deal with Whyte. And David Murray has a deal with Whyte. David Murray has in the past criticised Paul Murray and King and Douglas Park, who may also involved in the consortium, for sniping from the shadows. If there is any substance to them at all, it's time they proved it. There is no immediate end to this affair. It's Rangers' good fortune, though, that Whyte's determination is so strong. If he wasn't so focused on this deal, he'd have had cause to pull the plug once Johnston sought to humiliate him in his strange statement.



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Guest Sjp1873

Tom English clearly has the ear of someone in either murrays camp or CW's. His article basically covers everything I expected out of the debacle yesterday, Whyte must have a solid plan or he would have walked after AJ's statement. I also wondered if the late timing of the statement was to limit Whytes ability to initiate his hostile purchase.


I still have the opinion that if this. �£25m has been available the whole time then why have a board so conscientious in the care of The Rangers waited till the squad is on it's knees, we lost our top goal scorer and there is millions to be spent on refurb of the stadium?


Surely if this cash is there now then these buffoons are in dereliction of there directorial responsibilities? They have left us to suffer repeatedly in the media with no comment in defence, the stadium is need of repair and now the lack of clarity in this sale is going to have supporters unsure of whether to renew season books. None of these actions are safe guarding the clubs future, the main responsibility of the board.


The self preservation society indeed.

Edited by Sjp1873
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I really don't know who is best for Rangers,but i am thinking I'd like a fresh start and CW seems to be that man.The current board should walk IMO as they have sat back and watched the club being ran into the ground and only now do they want to step in with a bid????,something stinks here.

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It is rumoured that at least one of the takeover committee is involved with the new bid, so the committee really have to expand on their resons for rejecting the Whyte proposal to avoid accusations of self-interest and also to keep the shareholders, fans and prospective season ticket purchasers in the picture.


Nobody is emerging with much credibility at the moment, and it's harming the club.

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TBH a fresh start is probably what we need now


if Paul Murray and say Dave King were right men to take club forward they should have acted years back rather than allow us to continually downsize in fashion we have.


I am not saying Craig Whyte is a saviour type either because no one really knows anything about him, but why not let him buy club clear the debt and rid us of SDM and then put a proposal into him and say allow us to invest in future of club


that way Paul Murray and Dave King will have some sort of say on how things pan out.

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