Mike Ashley is readying a surprise bid to take control of relegated Championship side Derby County following the end of Chris Kirchner’s exclusivity period this week, according to John Percy of The Telegraph.
American businessman Kirchner was named as the preferred bidder by administrators of the Rams after he re-emerged in the race to buy the club – months after his initial offer was rejected in December 2021.
The EFL confirmed this past week that Kirchner was close to completing a deal for the club, with his proof of funding accepted, however the deal hinges on Mel Morris relinquishing ownership of Pride Park – which he has debt tied to which is owed to MSD Holdings.
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Morris and Kirchner have finally been in contact with each other, but with Kirchner confirming that there is still an ‘impasse’ in regards to the stadium, his takeover cannot be completed.
And with his exclusivity period having ended on Saturday, Ashley is waiting to swoop with a fresh offer for County.
The Telegraph reported that the former Newcastle United owner agreed a deal to purchase both the club and Pride Park in December, but then negotiations collapsed following that.
Now though, Ashley is preparing a new offer to save County – although there are ‘concerns’ from Team Ashley that the administrators and Morris will not want to do a deal.
With Kirchner’s exclusivity period ending, it’s now fair game for anyone to come to the table and try their luck – and that’s what Ashley is doing.
Kirchner does appear to be quite far down the line, but if he cannot agree a deal for Pride Park then it won’t be happening and right now it looks unlikely, with Morris not standing down.
It’s believed that Morris wants £20 million for the stadium and that’s not acceptable for Kirchner, so it could be a cae of who blinks first.
But if Ashley comes to the fore with a combined offer for the club and stadium that is acceptable for both Morris and the admins then it will be extremely interesting to see what happens next.