An alliance made up of civic, political, business and cultural leaders in Derby has been formed to put pressure on football league chiefs to remove the obstacles blocking the takeover of Derby County – starting with a meeting with administrators tomorrow.
The Rams have already been handed a 21-point deduction and a transfer embargo by the English Football League (EFL) for previous breaches of Financial Fair Play rules and for going into administration.
The club is up for sale and administrators, which have three parties interested in buying the club, were due to announce their preferred bidder last week.
However, it appears the announcement has been blocked by the EFL due to claims made against the club by Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, as well as putting the club under a second transfer embargo and demanding proof that the Rams have the funds to complete the season, while also threatening expulsion from the Football League.
This has resulted in a national uproar and concerns that the EFL is acting unfairly. A petition asking the Sports Minister to intervene has already exceeded 42,000 signatories.
Now, “Team Derby” is calling on the EFL to allow the Rams takeover to proceed – and for the claims by Middlesbrough and Wycombe to be dealt with after the takeover is completed.
Derby City Council leader Councillor Chris Poulter said: “As a lifelong Rams fan I, like many others, am concerned about continuing uncertainty facing Derby County Football Club.
“As well as being of personal importance to me – like thousands of citizens from across the city and indeed the world – it is also significant to me as a leader in Derby.
“As a council, we understand the impact and value of having a football club in our city. It’s vital that city leaders come together and do everything we can to secure its future.
“Football supporters, including those from rival clubs, and the wider city are united in speaking up for the club and Derby City Council stands firmly with them.
“Myself and Paul Simpson, our chief executive, continue to meet regularly with administrators to ensure the future of our club.”
Marketing Derby and East Midlands Chamber back Derby County
John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby, said: “This cannot stand and we are appealing to the EFL directly to seek an urgent meeting to make it clear how important Derby County is to the city as a football club, driver of the economy and a positive member of the local community.
“Marketing Derby and our bondholders stand with Derby County through this difficult period.
“We are calling on the EFL to act responsibly and stop moving the goalposts and to allow the preferred bidder to proceed and to lift the transfer embargo to help stop players leaving and allow the club to stabilise and rebuild.
“We will be working with Derby City Council, MPs and businesses across the city to make as much noise as we can to make sure our concerns are heard by the people in power.”
Adam Buss, director of Derby’s City of Culture 2025 bid, is part of the alliance.
He said: “We believe that culture is more than just art. Sport is crucial to this mix and Derby County is at the centre of Derby’s identity and a crucial part of life for many throughout the city and county.
“The collective joy and despair that goes with supporting any sports team is part of what makes sport great, but right now the concern is that this passion and collective identity could be lost due to financial implications.
“The fans ARE the club – managers, players and administrators will come and go but it is crucial that institutions like Derby County are stabilised and enabled to compete so that more memories can be created and the power of sport is used, as it should be, to bring people together.”
Backing the Team Derby campaign, Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, added: “Derby County is an integral component of the city’s heritage, make-up and economy, with the prosperity of both intrinsically linked.
“A successful football team competing at the top of the sport creates a healthy atmosphere across the whole area and this will always have positive economic consequences.
“Businesses located in and around the city benefit from the tens of thousands of people who turn up every match to support their club – pubs, cafés, restaurants and shops will be packed before each game, while local transport networks rely on the increased number of passengers to remain viable.
“But it’s also much more than that. Derby County is a part of the city and county’s fabric, and every passing day in which the club is kept in its current state of limbo damages the communities and businesses that rely on this sporting institution.
“East Midlands Chamber wholeheartedly supports all efforts to find a swift resolution that ensures the club’s survival in the long term.”
How to support Team Derby campaign
In the meantime, people who want to show their support for the campaign are being asked to do the following:
*Write to their local MP asking for the EFL to allow the sale to proceed.
*Write to the EFL. The address is EFL House, 10-12 West Cliff, Preston, PR1 8HU. To contact the EFL visit https://www.efl.com/contact-form/.
*Sign the change.org petition, which can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/sports-minister-for-england-sports-minister-to-look-into-the-ongoing-situation-between-the-efl-derby-county.