Mike Ashley has reportedly taken the next step in his bid to buy crisis-ridden Derby County by depositing £50million to acquire the club and Pride Park Stadium.
The former Newcastle United owner and his group are set to inform Derby’s administrators, Quantuma, of their plans to takeover the club and rival Andrew Appleby’s bid to save the club from liquidation.
According to The Telegraph, Ashley’s lawyers, RPC, have set aside £50m to buy the League One club, which has been in administration since September last year.
The report claims that the deal to buy the League One club – managed by Wayne Rooney – will include the club and its stadium, which is still owner by previous chairman Mel Morris.
The Telegraph go on to claim that Ashley is ‘incredibly serious’ about buying the club but it concerned that it may be too little too late given how Quantuma are keen to get a takeover done and dusted.
A part of Ashley’s deal to buy Derby will reportedly see him not include any charges for the rent of Pride Park. He will also not take any money out of the club for the next decade in a bid to help the Rams get back on its feet.
Ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has reportedly deposited £50million to buy Derby County
Ashley’s bid comes a week after Appleby, who was chairman of Derby from 2008 to 2015, submitted an official bid to buy the club after Chris Kirchner’s withdrawal plunged the future of the Rams into doubt.
Appleby had agreed a deal to buy the Rams back in January before talks broke down, The Telegraph also reported last week. He had registered an interest in purchasing Derby as far back as October.
Quantuma are scrambling to find a buyer after Kirchner formally withdrew his offer on Monday, leaving the Rams in a potentially perilous situation with the new League One season starting on July 30.
Kirchner’s camp were still talking up his prospects of completing a deal as late as the weekend, though there were serious doubts about his ability to do so.
Crisis-ridden League One side Derby have been in administration since September last year
The consortium led by former Rams chairman Andrew Appleby tabled a bid to save the club
Earlier this week, Derby’s administrators were seeking short-term funding to ensure Derby can start the new campaign, but Ashley and Appleby’s bids have raised the stakes in completing a full takeover.
A statement from Quantuma read: ‘Before a sale is finalised, there is an immediate requirement to secure the short-term future of the club, to allow players to be signed, issue season tickets for sale and to secure commercial agreements, as well as our best intentions to bring the uncertainty for staff and supporters to an end as soon as possible.
‘We are having extremely positive and productive discussions with interested parties in relation to the short-term requirements and are confident of those discussions leading to a sale thereafter which will secure the club’s long-term future.
‘The club does not have the luxury of time, and so, even without hard deadlines, the club’s future must be secured very soon.’
Wayne Rooney’s side has just five senior players ahead of their return to pre-season training
Rooney’s men are due to return for pre-season training on Monday – with only five senior players under contract.
Football League chiefs pledged to take a greater role in sale negotiations but have so far been frustrated by confidentiality agreements attached to the various bids.
Unless the successful bidder agrees to pay creditors at least 25p in the pound, Derby face starting next season with a 15-point penalty.
They were relegated from the Championship last term after being docked a total of 21 points – 12 for entering administration and nine for historical financial breaches.