Derby County: Local council confirm effort to buy Pride Park to support takeover

General view of Pride Park
Derby County will play in England's third division for the first time since 1986 next season after being relegated from the Championship

Derby City Council are working on a deal to buy Derby County's home ground to try to help ensure the cash-strapped club are taken out of administration.

Issues with buying Pride Park from Derby's former owner Mel Morris were on Thursday singled out as a "hurdle" in Chris Kirchner's attempted takeover.

Kirchner's offer for the club does not include the purchase of the stadium.

"We would work in partnership with them to facilitate the revival of the club," said council leader Chris Poulter.

"Officers are working on that - finance officers, property officers, business officers, legal teams are in that process. We will see what comes out of it."

Derby manager Wayne Rooney said having the team play at an alternative ground next season "is an option" being looked at by the prospective new owners.

"For this club to carry on, what the EFL need to see is that the club has a stadium," he said.

"We don't want to go down that route, but they are certainly options we have to look at because what's important is that this club continues to survive and play."

Wayne Rooney on the sideline as Derby manager
Wayne Rooney has previously said he intends to continue as Derby County manager if the takeover of the club can be completed in a timely fashion

In an interview with BBC Radio Derby, Poulter reiterated that the council's initial preference had been to "support" a buyer who wanted to rescue the club and purchase the ground for themselves.

"That's not the case at the moment because the administrators have appointed Kirchner and Garry Cook," Poulter said. "They've made it perfectly clear that they don't want to deal with Mel Morris on the ground.

"Their preferred option is for the council to take ownership of the ground.

"We are seriously considering the whys, the wherefores, the benefits and risks of the council of becoming involved in the stadium."

Kirchner said his attempt to take the Rams out of administration "just comes down to the stadium".

Morris, who put the club into administration in September, had bought the ground from the club for £80m through another company he owns.

That sale saw Derby post a pre-tax profit of £14.6m for 2017-18, but within four years the club had been plunged into financial strife and placed into administration.

Points deductions totalling 21 points for going into administration and for breaching the EFL's financial rules contributed to Derby's relegation to League One this season.

Kirchner's period of exclusivity as preferred bidder expires on Saturday, with former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley understood to be poised to revive his interest in a takeover.

Poulter, however, said the Kirchner deal is "very close" to being agreed.

"It's absolutely unthinkable that Derby city wouldn't have a senior football team for the community to lean on," Poulter added.

"We will do everything possible within our power to help in that process. All options are still on the table.

"Things are a lot clearer, a lot of things have been sorted out.

"Common sense conversations are happening about the timescales. People understand that each and every side in this has detailed paper work and detailed contracts to draw up."

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