Bookmakers Boylesports, which is interested in buying rival Ladbrokes Ireland out of examinership, was yesterday granted leave by the High Court to "raise questions about the performance by Ladbrokes' examiner".
Ms Justice Mary Faherty granted Boylesports permission to serve short notice on Ladbroke Ireland Ltd; Ladbroke Leisure Ireland Ltd; Dara Properties Ltd; and on examiner Ken Fennell of Deloitte of their intention to raise the matter in court today.
The Ladbrokes Irish unit is currently under court protection from its creditors through examinership. It plans to close up to 60 of its 196 betting shops in Ireland and to cut 250 jobs as part of a proposed rescue plan.
That deal would see the Ladbrokes business in Ireland remain under the control of its UK-based parent.
However, Irish-owned Boylesports had approached Mr Fennell regarding an alternative plan which would also include shop closures but, it is claimed, would offer better terms to creditors, mainly landlords.
Creditors alleged that Ladbrokes was offering derisory compensation for surrendering the leases on shops it was planning to close. Boylesports is understood to have approached the Ladbrokes examiner about a possible deal as far back as April.
The Ladbrokes business in Ireland sought an examinership in April to safeguard the loss-making operation here. The company employs 840 people in Ireland across 196 shops.
The group said profits at its Irish business had been declining for years, and that last year the division made a €5m loss.
Ladbrokes' chief executive, Jim Mullen, described the decision to apply for examinership in Ireland as "regrettable".
"The action taken... by the directors of the Irish companies is to safeguard the Irish business which in its current state is not sustainable and cannot be supported by the Ladbrokes board without radical change, having lost its competitive edge," he said in April.
Ladbrokes drafted in a team of troubleshooters back in February to decide how to restructure the Irish arm. Ladbrokes has had to cope with expensive leases, many of which would have been signed during the boom years and which don't reflect current market rents.