American businessman Bill Miller is nearing a takeover of Rangers after being granted preferred bidder status by administrators Duff and Phelps.
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Miller, a tow truck tycoon, was vying for control with the Blue Knights consortium led by former Rangers director Paul Murray and backed by Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, and now appears to have won the race to succeed Craig Whyte as owner.
Miller last month unveiled plans for an £11.2 million bid for Rangers that would create what he described as an "incubator" company while Duff and Phelps bid to take the club out of administration through a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement.
Joint administrator Paul Clark informed staff of the news at a meeting at Ibrox on Thursday morning.
Clark said on the club's official website: "We would like to thank all parties for their efforts in seeking to submit bids which preserve the long history and success of the club.
"We are delighted to announce that today we have received an unconditional bid for the business and assets of Rangers Football Club plc from Mr Bill Miller which has been accepted in principle and he is now the preferred bidder.
"Mr Miller now proposes to complete his transaction by the end of the season."
David Whitehouse, of Duff and Clark, told a press conference that they hoped to complete an agreement with Miller and with the club's creditors before the end of the current season.
Whitehouse said Miller was seeking clarity over sanctions imposed against Rangers because of administration and that his bid was the best for the club and avoided the need for liquidation.
Whitehouse said: "I'd like to announce that today we've received an unconditional bid from Mr Bill Miller which has been accepted and he is now the preferred bidder.
"Mr Miller now proposes to complete the transaction before the end of the season. We believe the bid from Mr Miller provides not only the best deliverable outcome but preserves the history of the club.
"Rangers Football Club will continue as the football club it has for some 140 years."
He added: "Mr Miller and his team have sought clarity in relation to any potential footballing sanctions. Very importantly the bid avoids the need for liquidation. All too often the term liquidation has been bandied about during this process without a clear understanding of what it actually means.
"There is no liquidation involved in this strategy and we cannot stress that strongly enough."
Whitehouse revealed that Miller's bid would achieve the terms of a Creditors Voluntary Agreement which would guarantee creditors were not left empty-handed.
"Mr Miller's bid achieves that criteria," he added. "Mr Miller's proposal is the only unconditional bid we have received. The bid proposed by Mr Miller is greater than any other and provides the best return to creditors."
Miller's bid will also help resolve the issue of the majority shareholding in the club which is controlled by former owner Craig Whyte.
Whitehouse continued: "The bid from Mr Miller provides the best framework to deal with the issue of Rangers' majority shareholding.
"We confirm that we envisage the sale of the club will be completed by the end of the current season. We hope fans will now support and appreciate the commitment made by Mr Miller.
"We expect to enter into a binding agreement with Mr Miller very soon."