London (AFP) – The English Football League (EFL) must work “pragmatically and rapidly” to resolve issues that threaten the future of Derby County, according to a UK government minister.
Derby, managed by former England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, went into administration in September and have been docked 21 points for breaching EFL financial rules.
The Championship club’s administrators are understood to be in talks with three potential buyers, but have been unable to name a preferred bidder due to the threat of legal action against Derby by two other clubs.
Middlesbrough and Wycombe are seeking compensation for loss of earnings in relation to Derby’s financial breaches and potential new owners are reluctant to commit themselves to further liabilities.
“The current situation remains challenging as Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers consider their claims should be protected under the terms of the Insolvency Policy. The administrators disagree,” the EFL said in a statement on the issue.
“Further, as those claims are not yet determined the administrators and bidders have no clarity on the size of any (if any) liability. That has implications for exiting administration, and ultimately the club being able to retain its membership status.”
Culture minister Chris Philp encouraged Middlesbrough and Wycombe to drop their claims.
“There are obviously legal proceedings ongoing, but I think it would serve everybody’s interests, the interests of football more generally, as well as Derby County in particular, if those involved did show pragmatism and help a proud and longstanding club survive,” Philip told the House of Commons.
“We do want to see the English Football League work urgently and pragmatically and rapidly to resolve these outstanding issues which are in the way of a takeover by a new owner, who we hope can invest the money needed to turn the club around.”
Conservative MP Damian Collins, a former chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said it was the EFL’s failure to punish Derby at the time which has caused the current chaos.
Middlesbrough were denied a playoff place by the Rams by one point in 2018/19, while Wycombe were relegated last season when a points deduction was delayed.
“If the EFL had enforced its own financial rules effectively this wouldn’t have happened,” said Collins. “And yet it is the EFL’s own rules that will trigger the expulsion of Derby from the league.”
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