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By ESPN Staff
Apr 19, 2011

Gers takeover saga takes new twist

The Rangers takeover saga has taken a major twist as chairman Alastair Johnston has revealed that an Ibrox director had proposed an alternative funding plan to Craig Whyte's bid.

Johnston revealed concerns over the "relatively modest amount of money" available to immediately invest directly in the club from Whyte, who had agreed a deal with majority shareholder Sir David Murray and main creditor Lloyds Banking Group.

The alternative plan would instead see a "fresh issue of new capital to raise £25 million to be invested directly into the club".

Whyte had been hoping to push through the deal on Monday after first announcing his intentions to the stock exchange in November.

Johnston admitted earlier this month that the Rangers board had not played a central role in the negotiations but, as part of an "independent sub-committee" set up to review the deal, he delayed its conclusion.

In a statement, Johnston insisted the board had legal responsibilities to ensure the transaction served the best interests of the 26,400 minority shareholders, and he cast doubt on the ability of Motherwell-born venture capitalist Whyte to immediately transform the fortunes of the club, whose debt stood at £27 million in June.

Johnston said: "Based on the documents we have only been able to review within the last week, we are disappointed that they ultimately 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.

"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 club's operations, especially as it relates to an urgent requirement to replenish and upgrade the playing squad."

Johnston added: "The board has had an approach from one of its directors who wishes the board to consider an alternative funding option. This would involve a fresh issue of new capital to raise £25 million to be invested directly into the club.

"The board believes that it has a responsibility to examine this proposal whilst continuing its review of the Craig Whyte transaction.

"After six months of limited engagement in the process, the board believes that is not in the best interests of its stakeholders for it to be pressed into an unrealistic timescale."

The identity of the director was not made clear, nor was the method of funding, although a bank loan appears out of the question given the amount owed to Lloyds.

Directors who have been linked with takeover attempts in the past include South Africa-based Dave King, motoring tycoon Douglas Park and former bank executive Paul Murray.

However, Whyte's bid has been the only serious proposal on the table since the latter stages of 2010. Whyte's team were tonight studying the statement while it is understood that Lloyds are perplexed over the latest development.

But Johnston, who had vowed to step down if Whyte's takeover had gone through, claims the Lanarkshire-born tycoon had accepted the delay.

Johnston said: "On Monday, I had a lengthy conversation with Craig Whyte explaining the dilemma that the board now faces. It was a constructive and healthy dialogue, and whilst he expressed his frustration, he understood our position.

"We agreed to remain in touch in terms of working towards a resolution that is in the best interests of all parties involved as we receive more information relating to his financial commitment to Rangers Football Club."

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