Championship side Derby County will be limited to free transfers and loan deals in the January transfer window once again after breaching the EFL’s Profit and Sustainability rules, as per the ‘Agreed Decision’ document (breakdown via Derbyshire Live) published after the club were punished with another nine-point deduction.
This is a familiar transfer predicament for the Rams who were faced with a similar situation during the summer, initially being unable to recruit any players before finally managing to tie five trialists tied down to contracts and hand experienced centre-back Curtis Davies an extension.
But with six loanees leaving the club since last term and the likes of Martyn Waghorn and Jordon Ibe departing, they require more additions during the winter window if they want to be able to compete in each game and mitigate the effects of potential injuries to key first-teamers.
Quiz: Have Derby County ever won an away game at each of these 20 stadiums?
Not only is their inability to pay transfer fees for players a potential barrier in recruiting the quality and depth they need in January, but also the fact the East Midlands outfit will be required to agree the wages paid to any new arrivals with the EFL before the deal is signed off.
These salary caps apply to offering existing players new contracts too, potentially making it difficult for any new owner to come in and secure the long-term future of some of their best assets, including Lee Buchanan whose contract runs out next summer amid previous interest from the likes of Celtic and Nottingham Forest.
Similar restrictions from the summer on Wayne Rooney’s squad size also remain in place, with the EFL stating they will be ‘permitted’ to have no more than 25 registered players on their books.
These rules are set to remain in place for the remainder of the 2021/22 season (page 6), a campaign that is likely to see the Rams fall down to the third tier of English football with strict transfer guidelines in place and a 21-point deduction to contend with.
These transfer restrictions will be a major source of frustration for manager Rooney, who would have wanted the chance to spend under a potential new owner as the club looks to build for the long term.
However, they would probably rather have these rules in place in January as opposed to next summer, because their relegation looks all but confirmed after their latest deduction.
And if they are restricted in what they can do in the latter window, their 2022/23 campaign could be a disaster with a number of players out of contract and many potentially wanting to leave, reluctant to ply their trade in the third tier when they could easily make the step back up to the Championship again with another team.
Looking at the bigger picture, another bit of good news is the fact Chris Kirchner still seems to be heavily interested in buying the club, with the US businessman able to get the Rams into a better shape, invest the funds needed to rebuild the club in a sustainable manner and potentially return to the second tier swiftly.
Wigan Athletic have shown how quickly they could bounce back from administration if the right decisions are made.
Speaking about these restrictions more specifically in the short term, the fact Derby know they aren’t able to pay transfer fees will at least give Rooney time to focus on targets that are worthwhile in pursuing, as opposed to chasing players he won’t be able to sign.