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By ESPN Staff

Crucial week for Gers takeover

Craig Whyte's protracted bid to take over Rangers enters a critical stage this week with Lloyds Bank believed to be the main stumbling block to the deal being concluded.

The £33 million bid will see the Scottish tycoon take over 75% of Sir David Murray's shareholding, with London-based property developer Andrew Ellis becoming a 25% partner.

However, the bank's desire for an 'exit payment' of more than £1 million is one of the key stumbling blocks. Moreover, the severity of the cuts that the bank want to impose on the club for the start of next season is ``unsustainable'', according to a source close to the deal.

Those issues are sure to anger the Light Blues' supporters, who are expected to be told this week when figures are released that the club's debt has been slashed to around £21 million from the £27.1 million figure announced in June.

Talks will continue this week but Whyte is desperate for the deal to be done by Thursday, with the following day, April 1, being ruled out.

London-based Whyte appeared to be on course to complete a buyout when he reached an agreement in principle with majority shareholder Murray in early December, but various reported deadlines have come and gone.

Whyte had confirmed to the Stock Exchange in November he was considering making an offer for Rangers and was in talks with Murray International Holdings. He then held talks with Murray and Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston last year but there is real frustration in the Whyte camp that the deal is still not done.

The takeover plans include vows to wipe out the debt and invest £25 million in the team over a five-year period.

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