FERGUSON Marine in Port Glasgow looks set to be taken over by the Scottish Government within the next few days unless a last gasp commercial solution to the shipyard's current crisis is found.

Finance and economy secretary Derek Mackay confirmed for the first time yesterday that he is 'ready and willing' to nationalise the Newark yard to save the jobs of around 350 workers and finally get two delayed CalMac ferries finished.

Ferguson's chiefs announced late last week that they have begun the process of putting the company into administration - a move they'd intended to finalise by Friday.

The government held crisis talks over the weekend and yesterday moved to declare their hand.

Mr Mackay said: "The Scottish Government has been working for over two years to find a resolution to the difficulties at Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL).

"Throughout that time, our preference has been to identify viable commercial options to keep the yard going and to finish the vessels. No such solutions have come forward.

"The Scottish Government has now indicated to all relevant parties that we are ready and willing to take Ferguson Marine into public ownership and deliver the ferries to secure the continued employment of the workforce in the yard.

"There remains a process to go through to secure the transfer of the yard to the Scottish Government, and we are hopeful that all parties recognise the importance of completing that transfer as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

"While we are open to engaging with any parties with a serious interest in investing in and securing a future for the shipyard, it is essential the government acts now to secure the completion of the ferries and continuity of employment at Ferguson's."

The shipbuilder and publicly-owned Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) remain at loggerheads over who should pay the final bill for MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, which are almost 17 and 23 months late respectively and expected to cost double the original £97 million contract price due to issues with the designs and the dual-fuel engine technology.

Greenock & Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan believes nationalisation is the only credible way forward.

Mr McMillan said: "I'm pleased to hear that the Scottish Government has now indicated to all relevant parties that they are prepared to nationalise Ferguson's to ensure the ferries are delivered, the jobs are saved, and that shipbuilding on the Clyde remains.

"My priority has been to protect the 350 jobs at the shipyard, and ultimately, shipbuilding in Port Glasgow. I appreciate how tumultuous the past few weeks have been for the workforce, and am glad that a positive way forward is on the cusp.

"I will do all I can to aid this process and support the workers, and am grateful to the Scottish Government for taking action to save Ferguson's."

The shipyard was saved from administration in 2014 by businessman Jim McColl through his firm Clyde Blowers Capital.

Company officials say talks are ongoing over the future of Ferguson's and told the Telegraph they had nothing to add at this stage.