The UK businessman looked set to miss out on the Rams after Chris Kirchner was named as the club’s preferred bidder back in the early stages of April – but has been given a lifeline following the American’s failure to get a deal over the line.
Kirchner was given a deadline of 5pm last Friday to seal this agreement but money-laundering checks have hampered his ability to finalise a takeover, enabling other parties to launch bids for the club after his period of exclusivity was removed.
Quiz: Are these 20 Derby County transfer facts true or false?
It’s currently unclear whether Ashley will win the race to take control of the East Midlands outfit – but has certainly sustained his interest in buying the club and could be the man to rescue the Rams who are at real risk of falling into further danger as this saga continues to drag on.
Previous preferred bidder Kirchner and Derby boss Wayne Rooney previously struck up a good relationship and it’s currently unclear what stance the latter would take if Ashley was to steal the relegated outfit from under the American’s nose.
However, the former Newcastle United owner is keen on keeping the Manchester United legend after seeing him shine with his inexperienced squad last term against all odds.
This is great news for Derby who will want to see Rooney lead his side into the new season after managing to work well with what was a very young team last season, with little to no depth in many areas.
Looking back, it was remarkable that they even came close to getting themselves out of the drop zone considering they were deducted a total of 21 points and the squad can hold its head up high.
They may have been relegated at the end of 2021/22 – but they certainly won’t be short of confidence going into next season considering they would have stayed up comfortably without points deductions.
However, Rooney will need to put a squad together first if they are to have any chance of competing and this is why a takeover deal needs to be sorted as quickly as possible, with many of their first-teamers out of contract.
In fact, they have probably missed out on quite a few of their summer targets already but their survival has to be a priority at this stage and Ashley could come in and provide the stability needed. Keeping the Rams’ current boss would be a wise decision and increase stability further.