The Blue Knight's consortium led by former Chairman Paul Murray seems favourite having joined forces with a team of financial big hitters. Fans will also be asked to contribute £1000 a head to help the Blue Knights save their club.
Murray, who was vehement in his opposition to Craig Whyte’s takeover, has been working overtime to attract investors with financial clout.
He has won the support of former Rangers boss Walter Smith and the three major fan groups, making him the preferred bidder in the eyes of most fans.
Murray this week revealed Scots motoring tycoon Douglas Park and big hitters John Bennett and Scott Murdoch, financial men based in London, were the first to join his consortium. Former director Dave King also hopes to become involved, subject to SFA approval.
They were joined yesterday by Scots businessman Ian Harte, who already invests heavily in youth development at Rangers, Paul MacKenzie and Brian Phillips.
Mackenzie is the chief executive of Kilmarnock-based Mackenzie-Hall, one of the UK’s fastest growing debt recovery firms. It was sold last month to US company PRA in a deal worth £33.5million, nine years after it was founded by MacKenzie.
Phillips, who trained as an accountant with KPMG, is the chief investment officer at merchant bankers GCP Capital Partners.
Murray has also secured the backing of investment firm Ticketus, who have been tainted by their £24.4m deal with disgraced Whyte.
However, they insist they are now willing to provide “substantial” working capital for Rangers and renegotiate the terms of their previous deal with Whyte.
Murray said: “It’s time to change the ownership model of the club in order to make it sustainable. We also have to recognise the club is in crisis and requires substantial investment.
“If we are successful we plan to have a widely based share issue inviting participation from supporters. We will form a strong board with representation for all shareholders in a controlled fashion.
“After everything that has happened I want as much governance as possible to provide the necessary checks and balances. We will provide more detail in due course.”
The main contender has to be Brian Kennedy who has made his fortune from a string of successful double glazing, home improvements and communications companies.
A long-term friendship with Graeme Souness – they once tried to buy Wolves– provides a link to Rangers but he concedes he’s a reluctant bidder.
He said: “I don’t really want to buy the club but I don’t want to see Rangers die.”
The owner of Premiership rugby side Sale Sharks is no stranger to the round ball game. As well as his unsuccessful bid for Hibs, he owned Stockport County.
However, in 2005 he signed over his shareholding in County to their supporters’ trust. Kennedy still owns Edgeley Park, the stadium Sale and Stockport share, but the football club are facing troubled financial times.
Indeed, Kennedy stepped in earlier this year to ease their woes by waiving £75,000 rent for the previous six months.
He outlined his thinking on sports funding soon after taking control of the Sharks in 2000. He said: “We’re not in sport to make money but we are in sport to give us something exciting for the community and that doesn’t require a benefactor.”
The Bakhsh Group claim to have interests in property, education, printing and luxury transport, but owner Shazad Bakhsh lacks the backing of the sort Murray and Kennedy can bring to the party
That leaves The Fortress Group - a global investment company with assets under management at the end of 2011 totalling almost 44 billion dollars.
They had reported losses for the 12 months previously of a billion dollars but still managed the fortunes of 1000 institutional clients and private investors. They were founded in 1998 by five financial whizzkids, led by Wesley Edens, who made his name at Lehman Brothers, becoming a partner soon after his 30th birthday.
By the time the company were floated on the New York Stock exchange in 2007 the founders were worth a total, on paper at least, of almost 11 billion dollars.
Four years ago, Edens was ranked on the Forbes World Rich List at 962 with a personal fortune of more than one billion dollars. One of his partners, Robert Kauffman, was listed at 557 with a personal wealth of more than 1.5 billion dollars.
Club 9 Sports are turnaround experts who have made their name in buying up American sports companies and apparel manufacturers and restoring them to profit.
Their executive board is packed with experienced operators from a raft of US sports leagues and they have worked with teams and companies including Umbro, the Boston Bruins, Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets.
Their philosophy is clear. They say they “focus on underperforming and undervalued opportunities that can be improved by a hands-on approach of providing strategic and operational counsel and leadership.”
However, their expertise comes at a cost and it has already proved too rich for Sheffield Wednesday, who ended their negotiations with the company on a possible takeover in May 2010.
Wednesday chairman Nick Parker revealed the club turned down an initial offer of £2m for a 40 per cent stake in the club and they wouldn’t budge significantly on their offer.
Club 9 also tried to invest in Tranmere last year but Rovers chairman Peter Johnson revealed they couldn’t reach agreement.
They are hard-nosed investors – and make no bones about it. They admit: “By focusing on operations and finances, we are able to improve the performance of companies, events and venues and generate better returns for our investors.” Of the three dark horses they seem the most likley on paper to challenge the obvious main bidders.