There is increasing optimism at Derby that a preferred bidder will be appointed by the club’s administrators by the end of the month, although the new owners are very unlikely to be in place by then.
The English Football League (EFL) gave the Rams a deadline of the end of February to provide proof of funding for the remainder of the season and – although the club’s future will not be secure by then – they should have sufficient backing to prove they can fulfill their remaining fixtures.
Doing so would stave off any further EFL sanctions and could lead to the EFL board lifting the club’s ban on registering new players.
That could allow manager Wayne Rooney to sign players that are currently out of contract before the EFL’s deadline on new player registrations on March 24.
Derby have been in administration since September, leading to a total deduction of 21 points.
They currently lie 23rd in the Championship but are just four points from safety, and Rooney has stated his belief that his side will avoid relegation.
Derby close to agreement with Boro
Derby announced last week that an agreement between their former owner Mel Morris and Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson in relation to the ongoing legal case between the clubs is close.
The sale of Derby to new ownership has been complicated in part by the compensation claims of Boro and Wycombe.
Middlesbrough confirmed last month that they were suing Derby for “systematically cheating” whilst breaking the EFL’s financial rules in previous seasons.
Boro say that, had Derby not done so, they would have made the Championship play-offs and had the potential to earn tens of millions of pounds from promotion to the Premier League.
Wycombe’s claim states that they would not have been relegated to League One last season had Derby not broken the rules.
Derby said details of the accord – a harmonious agreement – between Morris and Gibson had been shared with the Rams ‘administrators Quantuma ahead of the sides’ meeting in the Championship on Saturday, which Boro won 4-1.
The news followed the release of a lengthy statement by Morris earlier this month that included an invitation to Boro and Wycombe to take up their claims against him personally at the High Court.
Morris said this would allow his old club to “move on for the benefit of the fans, the city of Derby, the sport and the EFL”.
Details of the accord were not released, but Derby’s statement said Morris and Gibson had been keen to develop it ahead of Saturday’s game at the Riverside Stadium.
“The claim has clearly been the source of much concern to both sets of fans, and especially those of Derby County,” the statement read.
“The fact that a resolution has been discussed and agreed should be comforting to both sets of supporters.”
The statement added: “However, it is important for all interested parties, including potential bidders, to be confident that the Middlesbrough claim will not be an impediment to Derby progressing its plans for a sale of the club.”
Administrator Carl Jackson added: “We are pleased to see that an acceptable resolution has been identified which allows us to push forward with our plans for the sale of the club.”