Derby County: EFL 'extremely frustrated' at not being able to speak to bidders

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Derby's Pride Park home - still owned by Mel Morris - remains a sticking point
Derby were relegated to League One last season after being deducted 21 points

The Football League says it is "extremely frustrated" at being blocked from speaking to potential buyers of stricken League One club Derby County.

After Chris Kirchner's withdrawal on Monday, the EFL said it intended to step up its involvement in the process.

It was expected EFL chief executive Trevor Birch would be kept across efforts to sell the club.

Ex-chairman Andy Appleby and former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley are among those known to be interested.

However, it has not been clear whether any party would be willing to pay the sum Kirchner had agreed to, which has raised the potential of a 15-point deduction for Derby next season.

With fixtures due out on Thursday, BBC Sport understands administrators Quantuma remain confident of a sale and they are planning to take on more external funding to cover June's wages.

But key elements of their work remain out of the EFL's reach, according to Birch, as he outlined in a letter to the Rams Trust Fans Group, released on Saturday.

"The administrators have informed us that the confidentiality arrangements agreed with bidders, plus obligations owed by the administrators to individuals under the UK's General Data Protection Regulations, means they are unable to confirm the identity of any bidder without the express consent from the relevant bidder," said Birch.

"In order to explain our position, we have asked for calls with the solicitors acting for those bidders who have refused consent. These calls have not yet taken place.

"As you can imagine this is extremely frustrating for us. Firstly, with considerable experience in this area we believe we can help review any proposed exit plans to identify any issues as early as possible so we can then work with them to try to find any potential solutions.

"Secondly, we will have significant work to do on verification of compliance with the Owners' and Directors' Test, as well as an assessment of the ultimate source and sufficiency of funding. This clearly cannot start until we have the necessary information."

Quantuma have relied on external funding through the American financiers MSD Holdings since they were appointed in September.

However, Birch points out this approach carries risk.

"The administrators have funded the ongoing trading losses with further advances from an external funder which has security on the stadium," he added.

"This of course has created a liability that the administrators need a prospective purchaser to repay as part of the sale consideration. This debt has obviously grown with every passing month of administration trading."

Derby would be allowed to start the 2022-23 League One season in administration. However, Quantuma will have to show how they intend to fund the club at break-even level throughout the campaign.

Wayne Rooney's squad is due to begin pre-season training on 27 June, although the manager's position has yet to be clarified and the club only have five contracted senior players beyond the end of this month.

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