TROUBLED Ferguson Marine could have a new owner within days after a deadline for final bids was set by administrators.

Deloitte are understood to have fixed Monday as the closing date for interested parties to stake their claims to take over the shipyard.

It is understood that three 'serious players' — including the Scottish Government — out of an initial list of 21 potential bidders remain in the running to assume control.

A source said: "Monday is the closing date for bids for the yard.

"There are said to be three bidders left in the running and the Scottish Government is one of them."

Meanwhile, an insider told the Telegraph that despite the government's stated commitment to try to secure a commercial buyer, it is believed that ministers are keen to keep control of the yard, said to be valued at around £65m, themselves.

Ferguson's was plunged into administration last month when a dispute between former owner, billionaire businessman Jim McColl, and the government over a ruinous £97m order for two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries could not be resolved.

The yard's 300-strong workforce are anxiously awaiting news which would safeguard their future, and it is believed that an announcement may be imminent.

Sources say the government is already exploring options around splitting the shipyard into different operating companies which would handle distinct fields of work and projects such as the share of the lucrative new frigate work for the Ministry of Defence.

Earlier this week the Tele reported how Mr McColl has launched a dramatic bid to buy the yard back, and his offer has been publicly supported by local SNP group leader Chris McEleny.

Councillor McEleny said: "It would be the best deal for the taxpayer, would get the vessels complete and puts us back on track to grow Ferguson's workforce to in the region of 750 workers."

Administrators Deloitte declined to comment on the apparent deadline for bids.

A spokesman said: "We received a number of offers which we are currently working through and discussions with interested parties, in respect of their bids, are ongoing."

No comment was available from the Scottish Government.