GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — An American businessman is on the verge of buying Scotland's most successful soccer team after administrators running the financially stricken club recommended his bid.
Bill Miller, the chairman of a Tennessee-based towing and recovery equipment company, was named as the preferred bidder for Rangers on Thursday 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.
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.
"We are delighted to announce that today we have received an unconditional bid for the business and assets of Rangers Football Club from Mr. Bill Miller, which has been accepted in principle and he is now the preferred bidder," Rangers' joint administrator Paul Clark said. "Mr. Miller now proposes to complete his transaction by the end of the season."
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 already slender hopes of retaining the Scottish Premier League title were ended by a subsequent 10-point deduction.
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.
Rangers' future is at stake after falling into tax debts of about $14 million since the takeover of Craig Whyte last May.
The Ibrox outfit is also awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal over long-standing contested liabilities of up to $119 million.
Rangers was placed under a transfer embargo last week, preventing the club from signing players for the next 12 months unless they are under the age of 18.