Football: Singapore group cautious on Rangers bid

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean consortium bidding to take over ailing Scottish football club Rangers on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism that it will succeed after a rival backed out.

Businessman Bill Ng, the head of the five-man consortium, confirmed it was in talks with investment firm Ticketus, which had helped finance the Glasgow club's current owner Craig Whyte's takeover last year.

"The apparent withdrawal from the bidding process by the Blue Knights means only that the chances of taking over increases for the two remaining bidders left in the process," Ng told AFP.

"We cannot comment on the chances of us taking over Rangers as there are various factors being considered by the administrators," Ng said, who is chairman of Singapore football club Hougang United.

Another bidder, US businessman Bill Miller, remained in contention and Ng said he was unaware of the details of Miller's offer for the club.

"I only know what I can do and what my plans are for the club, if I am successful," he said.

"I believe it is more important for me to stay focused at this point of time and prepare for our ground works, regardless of the result of the announcement by the administrators."

Ng, a director with a private equity firm, told AFP last week his consortium had placed a £20-million (S$39.6 million) bid and said his move was motivated mainly by love for the 140-year-old club.

After the Blue Knights stepped aside late Monday, British media reported the Singapore group was expected to be named the preferred bidder.

The Blue Knights, fronted by former Rangers director Paul Murray, had been invited to enter into exclusive talks with administrators Duff and Phelps with a view to locking up a deal.

However Murray's group said they were unable to match the terms of a deal agreed by the Singapore consortium and Ticketus.

Ng stressed Tuesday that his consortium was still in talks with Ticketus.

"We have not agreed any terms with Ticketus at the moment. Ticketus have approached our representatives in the UK for talks but these are all discussions. No agreement has been reached."

Administrators were called in to Rangers on February 14 after British tax authorities went to court to seek payment of an unpaid bill of £9 million that had built up since Whyte took charge at Ibrox in May.

The bid by Ng's consortium marks the second time investors from the wealthy city-state have attempted to buy a British football club.

Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim in 2010 attempted unsuccessfully to buy English football club Liverpool for 320 million pounds.

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