GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – The American businessman who was seemingly on the verge of buying Rangers withdrew his bid for the financially stricken Scottish club on Tuesday.
Administrators running the record 54-time Scottish champions last week said Bill Miller, the chairman of a Tennessee-based towing and recovery equipment company, was their preferred bidder.
But Miller said in a statement that he was dismayed by hostility from fans unhappy with the prospect of foreign ownership and that the 140-year-old club's financial situation is worse than he initially thought.
''By late Monday night, it became clear to me that preliminary information, discussions and analysis were, unfortunately, more optimistic than reality,'' Miller said. ''Having no intention of negatively affecting the potential outcome of the club's future and after hearing the message from Rangers supporters and fans loud and clear, I notified the administrators today that I have withdrawn my bid for Rangers and will not be moving forward.''
Miller said he had been told ''Yank, go home'' but did not say by whom.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are among the English Premier League clubs under foreign ownership but neither Rangers nor Celtic - the biggest teams in Scotland - have ever been bought by overseas owners.
Rangers entered bankruptcy protection in February following a long-running dispute with British tax authorities.
Its future has been at stake after falling into tax debts of 9 million pounds (then $14 million) since a takeover by Craig Whyte a year ago. The Glasgow club is also awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal involving as much as 75 million pounds ($119 million).
Rangers is under a transfer embargo, preventing the club from signing players for the next 12 months unless they are under the age of 18, and cannot play in next season's Champions League because UEFA rules prevent it being granted a license.
Its already slender hopes of retaining the Scottish Premier League title were ended by a 10-point deduction that was automatically triggered by going into administration.