Football finance expert Kieran Maguire says Mel Morris’ decision not to put the company that owns Pride Park into administration has made a “complicated job even more complicated” for the club’s managers.
American businessman Chris Kirchner is in the prime position to secure the club’s takeover, having been given approval by the Football League provided he can resolve issues related to the club’s stadium. Negotiations are ongoing with former club owner Morris over the land he parted ways with the club in 2018 and used by Gellaw NewCo 202 to acquire.
His accounts were published on Tuesday night and showed the stadium is still valued at £81m and a deal needs to be struck with Morris for Kirchner’s takeover to continue. The situation has created an additional headache for the club’s administrators because a deal for the stadium is out of their control and Morris is reportedly seeking £23m for it.
MSD Holdings is reportedly owed over £15m after Morris took out a loan that was secured against Pride Park and is due to be settled by Derby former president.
And Maguire, who hosts the Price of Football podcast, said: “By not putting the stadium in the pool of companies that were taken into administration, Mel Morris created an insurance policy for himself because MSD was owed a lot of money. , which would have had to be returned in full because it has personal guarantees.
“So that made it a tricky job for the administrators because it’s difficult to sell all the assets of Derby County Football Club unless, at the same time, you can have some sort of agreement on where they’re going to play football.” .
“That gives us an extra layer of complication. Without the stadium, it makes things very difficult. I’m a Brighton fan and we played for two years at Gillingham. It wasn’t good. If the same thing faced Derby and we’ve heard Leicester mentioned and Stoke, so that would have an impact on attendance, which has been very good.
“We’ve seen what happened when Coventry went to Birmingham. But if you eventually go back to Pride Park then it’s less of a problem. But it’s certainly less than ideal. The good thing is that there seems to be progress with regard to moving the ground.
“The accounts from the company that owns the stadium came out Tuesday night. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not. It’s really hard to jump to too many conclusions. It’s still on the books, right there at 81 million. I suspect the Mr. Morris will not sell it for £81 million.”
Kirchner’s inauguration deadline has been set for May 31, which is next week, but if the deal goes through, he will inherit a blank canvas. With just six players under contract for next season, Derby will have to move fast to build a competitive squad for the League One campaign.
Derby manager Wayne Rooney has already admitted he may need to sign 40 players this summer in the first team and academy, but will no doubt hope to re-sign a large number of those who are out of contract at the club. Either way, a big rebuild is coming this summer, and Maguire believes one of the most immediate priorities will be getting Rooney on a competitive budget.
“Chris Kirchner will acquire the assets of Derby County Football Club Limited and the other satellite companies that are part of the administration process,” he said. “The assets that he himself will acquire and that he will pay for, and we don’t know how much he will pay, will consist of the parts of the offices.
“We also have some player records, the share they have in the EFL and not much else. The first thing to do is to come up with a competitive budget. And what he seems to be saying is that he is going to try to have something similar to a Sunderland’s budget in League One and Derby County is going to be a big shot in that division.
“There’s no doubt about that. But they’re not going to be alone. We’ve got Sheffield Wednesday there, Portsmouth are a decent sized club. There are a few others too who will make life difficult. And what we’re also seeing between the Championship in the League One, and we talked about the yo-yo situation between the Premier League and the Championship, well that’s also the same between the Championship and League One because of the significant difference in terms of TV money.
“He (Kirchner) has to be able to recruit. He has a broadcast budget next year of £1.5m to £2m. That’s a 75 per cent reduction. At the same time. I think most of the people would think Wayne Rooney is likely to be, by a considerable margin, the highest-paid manager in League One. There’s also that ongoing cost.
“But the positive here is that if the club has a good start to the season, there’s no reason why they can’t fill every game, because they have a very dedicated fan base. And also, having been through all the trauma From 2021/22, we expect it to be a much more enjoyable experience as long as the recruitment is correct.”
Are you confident that a deal will be struck for Pride Park? Your opinion in the comments section…