Verdict due in £24.4m Ticketus deal

THE battle for Rangers will take a crucial twist this afternoon when Ticketus find out if Craig Whyte has shafted them too.

Record Sport understands Lord Hodge will deliver his verdict over the legal strength of the infamous £24.4million deal – which gave Whyte the cash he needed to fund his disastrous takeover – at around 2pm at Edinburgh’s Court of Session.

Lord Hodge will decide whether the London-based firm are entitled to demand all or some of their money back – or indeed if the contract can be ripped up leaving them to chase Whyte for their missing millions.

It is expected that, over the weekend, the men from Duff and Phelps will select a preferred bidder from the four parties currently at the table – Paul Murray’s Blue Knights, Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, a Chicago group involving Club 9 Sports and an, as yet, unidentified British-based consortium.

So far Murray and Kennedy have been the frontrunners and clear favourites among the club’s fans.

But Record Sport understands that, as of late yesterday afternoon, neither of them were the automatic first choice for the administrators.

In fact, the Americans may have muscled their way into position ‘A’ by outbidding the rest in terms of cash they have promised to put into the pot for a potential CVA.

Little is known about this group but Record Sport can reveal it is being bankrolled by a team of four individuals and has secured the financial backing of Club 9 Sports parent company Prometheus Capital Partners who describe themselves as “turnaround specialists”.

Club 9 Sports have experience in basketball, baseball and ice hockey but have been looking to get a foothold in British football over the last two years. Their business plan is based on tapping into the lucrative US market and also forging links with clubs in the MLS.

But they failed in attempted takeovers at Sheffield Wednesday and Tranmere and, after the carnage left behind by the Whyte regime, the prospect of more “turnaround specialists” walking in through the front doors is likely to be a source of major concern.

Duff and Phelps face a difficult decision as, while their first duty is to salvage as much money as possible for the club’s creditors, they will also want be certain they do not cause any further damage by backing the wrong horse.

Today’s long-awaited resolution of the club’s legal position with Ticketus should help clear up some of the fog surrounding this takeover.

If Lord Hodge comes down on their side then Murray and his Blue Knights – who have negotiated a potential partnership with Ticketus and its £3billion parent company Octopus – could reclaim pole position before the end of the day.

If the now infamous contract for future season-ticket sales cannot simply be tossed away and Ticketus are confirmed as the club’s major creditor then Murray will seek to negotiate a restructuring of the original deal to reflect their position as an unsecured creditor.

However, if Lord Hodge declares the deal null and void then Murray would be likely to terminate his partnership with Ticketus and proceed instead with the other members of his consortium.

But, without the backing of Ticketus, even their combined wealth might not be enough to beat Kennedy whose own bid for control would be greatly strengthened by the collapse of Whyte’s season-ticket deal.