British officials today confirmed that Bill Miller, founder of Chattanooga-based Miller Industries, is the preferred bidder for the bankrupt Rangers Football Club.
Paul Clark, a trustee for the team, said in a statement that the group has tentatively accepted Miller's "unconditional bid" for the Rangers' business and assets.
"Mr. Miller now proposes to complete his transaction by the end of the season," Clark said.
The Scottish soccer club, comparable in popularity to an U.S. NFL team, owes hundreds of millions of dollars to creditors and tax authorities.
Miller has remained mum during the last several weeks of negotiation, prompting speculation in the Scottish press about his plans for the team.
The team's nearly 1.5 million fans would see liquidation as "a dishonorable end," said Mark McGivern, a reporter for The Daily Record.
"Every move he makes will be scrutinized," McGivern said.
In a statement released today, Miller gave fans encouraging signs that he plans to give the team a "fresh start," and promised not to let supporters suffer through a "travesty."
"We have worked hard to ensure that there is no loss of history, no loss of tradition and no liquidation of Rangers Football Club," Miller said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6315.