Rangers administrators have revealed American tow-truck businessman Bill Miller has been named preferred bidder for the club.
Administrators for the crisis-hit club informed non-playing staff of the development at Ibrox on Thursday morning.
Duff and Phelps selected the US businessman as their preferred bidder, which now gives him a two-week period of exclusivity in which both sides are expected to carry out due diligence.
The Blue Knights consortium led by ex-Rangers director Paul Murray and backed by Brian Kennedy was the only other offer on the table for the club.
According to the businessman, Mr Miller's bid involves moving the club’s assets - including Ibrox, Murray Park, the playing squad and the football memberships - to a new company on a temporary basis.
The owner of Miller Industries tow-truck company claims the "newco switch" will not see the original company liquidated. Instead, a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) will be proposed and, if passed, will see the old business reunited with the new company.
Miller previously stated that London ticketing agency Ticketus, which would be owed around £27m should it become a creditor, would be an obstacle to this attempt, while Rangers owe up to £134m in unpaid bills.
Paul Clark, of Duff and Phelps, told staff at a meeting at Ibrox: "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."
He added: "After many weeks of negotiation and deliberation 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 Football Club will continue as the football club it has been for 140 years.
"Furthermore, Mr Miller and his team have sought clarity in relation to potential footballing sanctions and the place of Rangers Football Club plc within the Scottish Premier League. Significant progress has been made and discussions will continue throughout the period which Mr Miller now enjoys as preferred bidder.
"Very importantly, the bid also avoids the need for liquidation. All too often the term liquidation has been bandied about during the process without a clear understanding of what it actually means.
"Liquidation means selling off the assets of a business individually to raise cash and therefore bringing about the closure or winding up of that business. This has never been on the table from any party in any form. There is no liquidation involved in this strategy and we cannot stress that strongly enough.
"As we stated at the outset, one of the prime objectives of the administration was to achieve a CVA which would deliver a return to creditors. Mr Miller's bid meets this criteria.
"In recent weeks there has been much debate about Rangers exiting from administration through a stand-alone CVA. However, the barriers to a proposed stand-alone CVA are now too high.
"These barriers include, in particular, the absence of any bidder proposing unconditionally sufficient funds to enable a stand-alone CVA to take place.
"Crucially a stand-alone CVA would take so long now to effect, the Club could not survive in administration.
As a consequence, no party has been able to submit an unconditional bid in a stand-alone CVA scenario.
"We confirm that discussions with the two final bidding parties for the Club included the possibility, as part of the proposals, the formation of a new company in addition to the preservation of the Rangers Football Club plc.
"Mr Miller's proposal involves the use of a specially created newco in addition to the retention of the Rangers Football Club plc. The business and assets he proposes to purchase will be sheltered in a newco and returned to the plc once the plc has been 'cleaned up'.
"He sees this route as a necessity rather than a choice and in our view this is an entirely workable strategy. Indeed to ensure the continuing operation of the Club beyond the end of May it is in our view a very compelling strategy.
"For the avoidance of any doubt as administrators we can only accept ultimately an unconditional bid - and Mr Miller's proposal is the only unconditional bid we have received.
"The bid submitted by Mr Miller is substantially greater than any other proposal and provides the best return to creditors, a fundamental part of our duties as administrators. Importantly, the structure provides a stable platform through which new investment can be deployed to ensure that the Club thrives again in the future.
"The bid from Mr Miller creates the most suitable framework to deal with the issue of the majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club plc."
Live stream not available on some mobile platforms
More About Focus on Rangers
- Rangers' largest shareholder pledges support to current board
- Rangers appoint Graham Wallace as the club's new chief executive
- Dundee's Scot Gardiner turns down chief executive role at Rangers
- Rangers appoint new director to oversee 'investment committee'
- Rangers' lawyers 'submit dossier to police on Craig Whyte document'
- Prospective Rangers board members 'bemused' over acting chairman
- Rangers appoint David Somers acting chairman as AGM date confirmed
- Scottish football governing bodies to continue talks over Rangers newco
- Rangers administrators statement as Bill Miller named preferred bidder
- Rangers crisis: Club 9 Sports is 'not involved' in Bill Miller takeover bid
- Rangers crisis: Timeline of financial meltdown at 140-year-old Ibrox club
- US tow-truck tycoon's bid for Rangers is 'credible', say administrators
- American tow-truck businessman submits £11.2m bid for troubled Rangers