A broken leg on the Knights' round table

Rangers fans at Ibrox Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It remains to be seen what fans of the club will make of the latest devlopment

Show us the Singaporean dollars, then. That seems to be the message from the Blue Knights consortium, as it pulls back from its bid to take over Rangers.

It's not pulling out. It's still willing to return to the table. But despite being part of the Knights consortium, Ticketus has also been consorting with the rival bid from Bill Ng.

So Paul Murray has thrown down a gauntlet to Ticketus, to the administrators and to the Singaporean who claims to have long been a fan of the Glasgow team; let's see the colour of your money. And while you're at it, let's see how the fans react.

Having lost some of its dramatic edge and tension of late, the Monday evening statements from the football club's administrators and from the consortium led by former director Murray has injected quite a few plot twists all at once.

Confused and dazed

Let's try unpicking them. For a start, all the talk last week about the SPL's proposed penalties to Rangers if it goes into liquidation forcing administrators Duff & Phelps to put the process on hold... remember that? Well, it now looks to have been a tad misleading. It now seems the delay had more to do with brinksmanship between the Blue Knights and the administrators.

We now know the administrators were looking for a non-refundable deposit if they were going to declare Blue Knights as preferred bidders, which would give them exclusive access to the books, and put them in the same room as the creditors.

They disagreed about the size of that down-payment, though apparently not over the principle of it. After some negotiation the Blue Knights now say they had reached a broad understanding. Duff & Phelps say no agreement had been reached. Maybe they're both right. You'd have to excuse them for being a bit confused and possibly dazed by all this.

That's particularly after the Blue Knights consortium found out that one part of the consortium, Ticketus, was also talking to Mr Ng.

The Whyte stuff

This isn't entirely surprising. As I reported many weeks ago, Ticketus, the London-based finance house, wants to protect the £24m it forwarded to Craig Whyte in exchange for three seasons of season ticket sales. It made it known that it was open to talks with any or all bidders.

It said as much before the announcement that it was part of the Blue Knights consortium. And afterwards, it continued to say it to anyone who asked. The finance company never said it was in an exclusive offer alongside Paul Murray, in the Blue Knights deal backed by supporters' organisations.

Instead, Ticketus wanted to be sure that whoever bought the club would respect the deal it struck with Craig Whyte to pay it the proceeds of those season ticket sales. If they don't, Ticketus left little doubt that it was threatening to tie them up in court, making it difficult to secure funding from elsewhere.

And it would also have to go after Craig Whyte's "personal and corporate guarantees" for £27.5m, which the majority shareholder says he signed with the company in order to get the funding for his takeover. You may remember that was from Whyte's weirdly rambling statement, in which he added that none of those guarantees were against Rangers' assets.

It would be a brave forensic accountant who went after those guarantees. So better for Ticketus to stick close to Ibrox and its new owners, if at all possible.

The Knight stuff

If we're to assume that Bill Ng has tabled the biggest offer, and we're now told it's by a "substantially better" margin, the challenge now is for Ticketus to tie up the deal it needs with the Singaporean and his other investors, and for Duff & Phelps to be satisfied the funds are actually available (you can't be too sure with people buying Rangers.)

And the preferred bidder has yet to find out how much the club owes HM Revenue and Customs (the ruling on the big tax bill still hasn't been handed down) and how much of a loss the tax authority and other creditors are willing to accept.

If Mr Ng has been that big a Rangers fan down the years, he'll surely be well aware what he's got himself into... won't he?

But what if the Ng offer doesn't work out? What if he can't get a Company Voluntary Agreement with creditors, which is what the Blue Knights hint at being his difficulty. They're saying the Knights still offer the best chance of securing a deal on debt.

If so, will the Blue Knights be able to put behind them the Ticketus manoeuvre to seek out a better offer from Mr Ng? It might look to some like bad faith. And yet the Knights' Monday night statement suggests the consortium could put its offer, Ticketus and all, back on the table.


Oh yes, and then there's Craig Whyte. An irrelevance? So say Duff & Phelps. Yet he's still sitting on 85% of the club's shares.

Not worth much, admittedly, but if Rangers is to avoid liquidation, that makes it look like he's still a player to be reckoned with.