Eddie Stobart bosses and its would-be owner Andrew Tinkler have exchanged more heavy blows ahead of Friday’s crunch vote on the future ownership of the troubled haulier.

In an opening salvo, Mr Tinkler’s company TVFB said it had offered a £20 million bridge loan to keep the company going and questioned the stark warning from rival bidder DBAY Advisors that Eddie Stobart was facing an imminent liquidity issue.

DBAY – whose proposal has the backing of the Eddie Stobart board – has warned that the company could go bust if shareholders do not vote through its bid at a general meeting in London on Friday.

Claiming that shareholders had a “overwhelming preference” to its alternative proposal, which would see an injection of £80m in equity funding and Mr Tinkler return as chief executive, TVFB also floated the idea of delaying Friday’s meeting, allowing it to put the loan in place.

“Contrary to the message which TVFB has been told has been conveyed to certain shareholders and the banks, based on the information made available to TVFB, there is no upcoming liquidity issue within the next week,” said TVFB in a statement.

“As a further sign of confidence in the business and its prospects, TVFB has overnight approached the banks and the Company with a proposal to provide a £20 million liquidity bridge, via a loan (the ‘Bridge Loan’) subject to certain conditions, following the general meeting.

“TVFB's proposal and the Bridge Loan offers Eddie Stobart Logistics a clear route to a solvent equity solution which is advantageous to all stakeholders.”

However, in its own statement issued shortly afterwards, the Eddie Stobart board dismissed the move by TVFB.

It quoted correspondence between its lenders’ advisers and TVFB, which said “… the banks would, at this stage, only entertain a proposal that saw them repaid in full ahead of the EGM.”

It added: “For the avoidance of any doubt the banks will not entertain any other proposals and are wholly supportive of the DBAY proposal that protects the businesses, employees, customers, suppliers and financial creditors whilst offering participation in the future of the group to existing shareholders.

“The DBAY proposal has the support of the Lenders, who have agreed to provide the financing arrangements necessary for the DBAY proposal to be implemented. The Board therefore continues to recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the DBAY proposal.

“As previously stated, in the event that the EGM vote is not successful the Board will be faced with an imminent liquidity shortfall, imminent expiry of the waiver and no support from the Lenders to explore alternative options.”

Eddie Stobart’s lenders, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, BNP Paribas and KBC are owed a combined £200m relating to breaches of its credit facility, but its board has confirmed that a waiver has been secured until 13 December.

Under its proposal, Isle of Man-based international asset management firm DBAY would take 51 per cent stake and 51 per cent stake and provide a £55m high interest loan.

It would also parachute in William Stobart – the fourth child of the company’s founder – to lead Eddie Stobart’s turnaround, with a specific focus on the busy festive period.

The latest exchange follows a frantic start to what could be a crucial week in Eddie Stobart’s history.

TVFB confirmed it had acquired a 6.5 per cent stake in a move it described as “indicative of our belief in the prospects of Eddie Stobart Logistics as an independent listed company”.

Meanwhile, DBAY also upped its stake in the company to around 27 per cent. Along with William Stobart and other “concert parties” is controls around a third of the company, which is struggling with debts of £155m and the fall out from a £2m accounting error that resulted in its shares on the junior AIM stock exchange suspended in August.

Both claim their bids are in the best interests of Eddie Stobart’s shareholders, stakeholders and staff.

The Unite union – which represents around 1,000 members employed in driving and warehouse roles – said Eddie Stobart staff have now become “piggy in the middle” in the battle for control of a company born in Cumbria but now headquartered in Warrington.

Unite has said it is also contacting customers – which include the likes of Tesco, Pepsi Co, Nestle, Cooperative, Argos, Coca Cola – to understand find out “what contingencies are in place” should the worst happen.