American businessman set for Rangers takeover
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) -- The American businessman on the verge of buying Rangers vowed on Thursday to end the culture of financial mismanagement that brought one of Britain's biggest clubs to the brink of closure.
Bill Miller, the chairman of a Tennessee-based towing and recovery equipment company, was named as the preferred bidder for Scotland's most successful team after weeks of negotiations with its administrators.
The takeover is reportedly worth $18.1 million and should prevent the 140-year-old club, which has won a record 54 domestic league titles, from being liquidated after years of overspending under previous owners.
"What Rangers, which includes supporters, players, staff and anyone with the club at heart, have been put through, particularly in recent months, is a travesty and from what I can see they have been badly let down by a number of individuals,'' Miller said.
"This will not happen on my watch should I become the custodian of this great club.''
Rangers' joint administrator, Paul Clark, said he hopes the sale will be completed "by the end of the current season,'' which finishes on the weekend of May 12-13.
"We believe that the structure of the bid from Mr. Miller provides not only the most deliverable outcome but preserves the history of the club,'' Rangers' joint administrator Paul Clark said. "Rangers Football Club will continue as the football club it has been for 140 years.''
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are among 10 English Premier League clubs under foreign ownership but neither Rangers nor Celtic - the biggest teams in Scotland - have ever been bought by overseas owners.
Rangers has been under the supervision of administrators since February when it entered bankruptcy protection following a long-running dispute with the tax authorities.
Its future has been at stake after falling into tax debts of $14 million since the takeover of Craig Whyte last May. The Glasgow club is also awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal over long-standing contested liabilities of up to $119 million.
"Under my stewardship, Rangers will be managed with fiscal discipline such that the club not only conforms to UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations but also such that Rangers will never have to suffer this kind of anguish again,'' the 65-year-old Miller said. "From now on, Rangers will live within its means - no excuses.''
Miller was competing with a supporter-backed consortium called the "Blue Knights.'' Singaporean businessman Bill Ng also made an offer but pulled out last month.
"His approach has been consistent throughout the process and on two occasions he has stepped back from the fray to enable other parties to submit an unconditional bid,'' Clark said of the American tycoon. "Mr. Miller's proposal can provide the opportunity for the club to return to success on and off the field.''
Rangers was last week placed under a transfer embargo, preventing the club from signing players for the next 12 months unless they are under 18.
Its already narrow hope of retaining the Scottish Premier League title were ended by a 10-point deduction that was automatically triggered by going into administration.
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