Derby County have secured a short term loan from a local businessman, which will allow the stricken club to start the forthcoming season.
David Clowes, chairman of Clowes Developments, has made an interim loan, as well as acquiring the club’s stadium, Pride Park, the administrators, Quantuma, confirmed in a statement issued on Friday.
In addition, Clowes, a passionate Rams fan, has announced his intention to purchase the club.
It comes amid reports earlier this week that Mike Ashley had taken the next step in his bid to takeoever the crisis-ridden Rams by putting aside £50million to acquire the club and stadium.
Crisis-ridden League One side Derby have been in administration since September last year
The former Newcastle United owner and his group appeared set to rival former chairman, Andrew Appleby’s, own attempt to save the club from liquidation. There is also reported interest from ex-Wolves owner Steve Morgan.
Derby – the club, fans and city – have been on a roller-coaster ride since the Rams went into administration in September.
A preferred bidder in American Chris Kirchner was finally announced in April, but the process dragged on and the entrepreneur finally stepped aside earlier this month when he could not confirm funds.
In the days that followed, Ashley, Appleby and Morgan have stepped up their interest, but now Clowes has entered the fray.
Wayne Rooney’s side has just five senior players ahead of their return to pre-season training
In a statment on Friday, Clowes Developments said: ‘Derbyshire-based property group, Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd, are proud to announce they have successfully purchased the company that owned Pride Park Stadium from fellow local businessman Mel Morris.
‘Additionally, Clowes have issued an interim loan to the club which will enable Derby County to start the next season and trade whilst a deal to purchase the club is concluded.
‘Clowes have also confirmed that they will, today, submit a bid to purchase Derby County Football Club. The loan agreement has now been formalised which has enabled the announcements to be made.
Sky Sports have reported that they expect Clowes to be named the preferred bidder in the administration process today, with an exclusivity period until Wednesday next week.
The Rams have suffered a roller coaster ride since the club went into administration last year
The situation at Derby has become increasingly desperate with only five first-team players under contract for next season, which is scheduled to begin on July 30, when the Rams face Oxford United at Pride Park.
Clowes, chairman of Clowes Developments, said: ‘With a deadline looming and the start of the next season getting closer, we needed to do something.
‘As a local and established property company, purchasing the stadium seemed the obvious first step. Secondly, as a proud Derby supporter, it was inconceivable to me that the Club was at risk of falling away. We’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the stadium purchase and loan agreement to be able to get the Club going again in time for the next season.
‘Players, staff and fans needed some good news, and we are delighted to play a part in delivering that.’
Derby – as a club and city – have stuck together in desperate times. Pictured: Curtis Davies
‘It is intended that this step forward will help to alleviate some of the growing pressure, allowing more time to make the right decisions for the future of the Club. The acceptance of our offer and swift completion of a deal will also allow the Club to get ready for the upcoming season.
‘Derby County can then start rebuilding a full team, confirm contracts, prepare for fixtures and allow the commercial aspects of the business to get going and start bringing in the much-needed income for the Club. Staff can plan for the next season and arguably, most importantly, dedicated fans can purchase their tickets.’
Today, a spokeswoman on behalf of the administrators confirmed the acquisition of Pride Park and that interim funding was in place so Derby can finally prepare for the new season.
Ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has reportedly deposited £50million to buy Derby County
The consortium led by former Rams chairman Andrew Appleby tabled a bid to save the club
The spokeswoman said: ‘[We are] very pleased to be able to confirm that following a period of negotiation, Derbyshire based property group, Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd has issued an interim loan to the club.
‘This loan will allow the club to start the forthcoming season, and to continue to trade.
‘The joint administrators welcome the earlier statement from Clowes, in which it was confirmed that a successful acquisition of the club’s stadium, Pride Park, completed on 17 June 2022 and they look forward to continuing positive discussions over the next day or so.
‘All parties recognise the need to conclude a sale of the business and assets of the club, as a matter of urgency.’
After Kirchner stepped back from his attempt to buy Derby, the EFL stated it was ‘increasingly concerned’ with ‘ongoing delays’, which it said posed a ‘real risk to the integrity of next season’s competition’.
Derby were relegated from the Championship last season after incurring a 21-point deduction for entering administration and breaches of the league’s financial rules.
It followed a period of overspending as former owner Mel Morris tried to achieve the dream of returning to the Premier League, but it led to a financial crisis.