Today, every supporter of the Ibrox club is eager to learn more about the English businessman, publicly linked with a £33m takeover.
Loading article content
Murray International Holdings confirmed on Monday that majority shareholder Sir David Murray has begun negotiations with Ellis and interested parties.
The estate agent and property developer wants to buy control of the debt-ridden Scottish champions through his Guernsey-based vehicle company RFC Holdings, but he was relatively tight-lipped when asked yesterday about his putative offer for the club.
He said: “I don’t wish to be rude, but I don’t really want to say anything about this at the moment. I might have something to say later in the week, in a few days. Things are at too early a stage for me to say anything. I don’t want to make a comment now which might come back to haunt me at a later date.”
Many of those who have had dealings with Ellis at the two football clubs he has been involved with in the past believe he is merely the public face for a consortium of wealthy businessmen.
As one former associate said: “Unless his numbers came up in the EuroMillions draw last week, Andrew Ellis doesn’t have the sort of money needed to take over Rangers himself.”
In addition, senior fans’ representatives at Queens Park Rangers and North-ampton Town remember potential property deals being mooted at both clubs when Ellis was involved.
Their remarks are sure to worry the Rangers support; there is already speculation that Murray Park will be sold off for housing if he succeeds in gaining control.
A consortium fronted by Ellis attempted to buy control of Queen’s Park Rangers for £9m in 2001. Justin Pieris was the vice-chairman of the supporters’ trust QPR1st at that time and recalls plans for Loftus Road proved unpopular.
He said: “The sticking point was the consortium’s proposal to eventually move the club to a site at Heathrow. The consortium was very property-based. There was talk of building a hotel and a casino at the new Heathrow Stadium and of redeveloping Loftus Road. There was a negative reaction to it among the fans. He was a QPR fan. His father had been QPR chairman at a time when the club was very successful and finished fifth in the top flight. But, ultimately, the deal never came off.”
Pieris, though, has been interested to read that David Bulstrode, another wealthy London-based property developer, has been linked with the Ellis bid.
He said: “I would imagine the strength of any Ellis bid for Rangers will depend on the strength of the consortium behind him.”
Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager who was in charge at QPR at the time, publicly opposed the proposed move to Heathrow.
“I knew Peter Ellis very well, he was an absolute gentleman. I met his son once or twice, but didn’t really know him. I wouldn’t have thought that he [Andrew Ellis] would have had the sort of money which is needed to buy control of Rangers.”
Ellis turned up at Northampton Town shortly afterwards when he fronted a £500,000 takeover. However, his stay at the then English fourth division club proved to be ill-fated. He dismissed popular manager Kevan Broadhurst in 2003 and replaced him with former England international Terry Fenwick. But he failed to win a single game and lasted just 49 days at the helm.
“He was a disaster and didn’t last very long at all before he parted company with the club,” says local fanzine editor Mark Kennedy, who recalls a larger-than-life character and talk of a move to Milton Keynes.
“There was the potential for our Sixfields Stadium to be developed at that time and for a shopping facility to be built on the land around it. That is a situation which is still ongoing with the council here now all these years later. I think when Ellis realised nothing was going to happen there, he left. I don’t think he had much, if any, equity in the club. I believe he just fronted the consortium which took over the club.”