Troubled Championship club Derby County have been given until March to prove to the Football League that they have the funds to complete the season.
The Rams had initially been given a February 1 deadline to show that they can carry on while ensuring players, coaches and staff will be paid on time. But the EFL has agreed to a month-long extension to allow administrators extra time to find a buyer.
Derby, who have previously spent seven seasons in the Premier League, have fallen on hard times in recent years and have been in administration since September – the fallout of which has seen them deducted a whopping 21 points.
And while Wayne Rooney’s are fighting hard on the pitch – they would sit comfortably in mid-table based on points earned, administrators Quantuma are battling just as manfully to find investors that meet the fit and proper person’s criteria.
They are also facing legal claims from Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, who claim that the Midlands club’s ‘cheating’ of FFP rules would have seen them have a chance of getting promoted to the Premier League (in Boro’s case) and avoiding relegation (according to Wycombe).
Naturally, Derby were delighted with the temporary stay of execution, and the club and Quantuma have released a joint statement:
“Today’s development will allow the club to meet its ongoing obligations, whilst giving a further four weeks to continue the discussions with the interested bidders and relevant stakeholders in respect of a sale, alongside providing additional time to seek clarity on the claims from Middlesbrough and Wycombe.
“It is appreciated that many people have been waiting to receive an update over the last 48 hours but given the complexity and ever-changing circumstances, our priority has been to provide clarity once there is a definitive position.”
With the threat of liquidation hanging over the club, Derby’s exit has been a revolving door during the January transfer window. Four players – David Marshall, Graeme Shinnie, Dylan Williams and Jordan Brown – have joined new clubs, while Phil Jagielka was allowed to leave after the cash to extend his short-term contract could not be found.
And now the fear is that talisman Tom Lawrence may have to be sold, with Bournemouth and QPR said to be lurking.
Plenty have flirted with the idea of rescuing Derby County with a takeover bid, but nobody has yet made good on their plans and passed all of the necessary regulatory checks.
The hope for Rams fans is that a £28 million bid from Carlisle Capital, financed by the wealthy Binnie family in America, is not another mirage.
But they may prefer an offer from a consortium led by former chairman, Andy Appleby, whose prior allegiances to the Rams – and reported interest in buying and returning ownership of Pride Park back to the club – make him the ideal candidate.
And there may be another interested party watching on with intrigue. Former Newcastle United chairman Mike Ashley is on record as stating his interest in taking on the Derby challenge.