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Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 22:40 UK

Andrew Ellis bid for Rangers faces further delay

Andrew Ellis sports Northampton Town colours
Property developer Ellis previously owned Northampton Town

By David Currie

It could be two weeks at least before the London-based consortium interested in taking over Rangers makes a bid.

Ten weeks have passed since Andrew Ellis and his company, RFC Holdings, informed the Stock Exchange they were interested in taking over the club.

And it is clear that takeover negotiations have hit some sort of stumbling block.

But the Ellis group insists that does not mean any potential deal is dead - even if there is a further delay.

Ellis had on Tuesday expressed his unhappiness at criticism of his consortium from Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston and defended the time being taken to complete a takeover bid.

"If I have offended him then I apologise and I apologise if it is taking longer than normal," said the London-based property developer.

Donald Muir believes that there might be something productive in this deal, but I have to say I reserve judgement on that

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston

"It is taking time because there are an awful lot of things to go through.

"But the next time he is back in the United Kingdom then I will be happy to have a meeting with him."

Johnston cast doubts on Ellis's ambitions after returning to his International Management Group base in Ohio.

The chairman recently spent six days in Scotland and told The Times newspaper of his frustration at attempts to set up a meeting with Ellis.

"I'm surprised to be honest, very surprised," Ellis replied. "I wasn't very happy when I learned of his comments and I think he is being unfair.

"I don't understand where he is coming from.

"I've never had a meeting arranged with Alastair Johnston and he has never requested a meeting with me.

"The club have my number, but he has never phoned me."

Ellis is heading a consortium that is considering a reported £33m bid for the Scottish champions, who are about £30m in debt and who have admitted that they are being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs, with reports claiming the club faces a £24m tax bill.

The former Northampton Town owner stressed that "Rangers is a massive club, it is an institution" and this was the reason why the proposed takeover was taking so long.

However, Johnston said: "I don't see any imminent resolution of a new owner for Rangers.

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston
Johnston returned to the USA after Rangers retained the title

"So I believe we are going to have to plan and budget on a 'no change in ownership' basis going into next season.

"The situation regarding Mr Ellis's proposed buying of Rangers has gone on way too long - so let's just say I am sceptical about it."

Johnston admitted that, despite his own misgivings, Rangers director Donald Muir, the financial expert placed on the board by present owner Sir David Murray's parent group, was more positive about the possible deal.

"Donald Muir believes that there might be something productive in this deal, but I have to say I reserve judgement on that," he said.

"What I believe Rangers will need is someone who can prove capable of making a significant difference to the fortunes of the club beyond the mere buying-selling act.

"There has to be a means there to be able to allow Rangers to thrive beyond any dependence on the banks."

Rangers manager Walter Smith has been unable to make any significant signings for more than a year.

Smith and his backroom team have been operating without contracts since the turn of the year and their future at the club remains uncertain along with several of their league and League Cup-winning squad.

Johnston revealed that the manager had spoken personally to the bank as he decides whether to continue in post with the Glasgow club.

Fans frustrated over Ellis bid - Edgar

"In meeting with the bank, I hope Walter was at least able to talk directly about the type of investment he believes the team will need and maybe take some reassurance from that meeting," added the chairman.

"We will give Walter time to decide his future. At the moment, he has both club and personal issues to resolve."

Rangers Trust spokesman David Edgar thinks that Rangers are in a financial limbo that is damaging to their prospects next season.

"It has been going on for some time now for a long time and, from what we hear, we are no closer at all to any resolution," the fans representative told BBC Scotland.

"If Andrew Ellis is serious about taking control of the club, what's stopping him? It is time to do it or walk away from it.

"What we can't have is are months more of this rumour, counter rumour and speculation.

"It is not healthy for Rangers, fans are growing ever-more frustrated, we don't know who to believe and it seems that Alastair Johnston is exactly the same as we are.

"The longer that people go on without coming to the table, you have to question the credibility of their bids."

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see also
Weir unfazed by Rangers bid delay
19 May 10 |  Rangers
Smith no clearer on Ibrox future
09 May 10 |  Rangers
Boyd tight-lipped on Gers future
09 May 10 |  Rangers
Trio destined for Ibrox departure
09 May 10 |  Rangers
Wilson to complete Liverpool move
08 May 10 |  Rangers
Alexander wants new Rangers deal
07 May 10 |  Rangers
Gers boss irked by Ellis comments
07 May 10 |  Rangers
Group mulls over Rangers takeover
11 Mar 10 |  Rangers

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