Derby County owner Mel Morris is willing to sell Pride Park as part of a potential deal to save the football club after its entrance into administration, according to supporters group Black and White Together as they met with administrator Carl Jackson last night.
Morris bought the stadium via his then-new company Gellaw Newco 202 in June 2018, purchasing the arena for £81.1m and helping to provide some relief in the Rams’ quest to escape breaking the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules.
However, the governing body decided to charge Derby for this sale for breaching financial regulations, though they didn’t receive a points deduction for this misdemeanour.
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Turmoil did start to arise in the East Midlands last term though, only just staying afloat in the Championship by a single point and being severely hamstrung by their transfer embargo in the summer.
These restrictions were due to the second-tier side’s failure to submit their accounts and defaulting on payments to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, with the latter foreshadowing what was to come last month: administration.
This off-the-pitch event ruined what was a reasonably successful start to the campaign considering the East Midlands outfit were only able to recruit five new players during the summer, with their automatic 12-point deduction for their entrance into administration leaving them at the bottom of the table and with a lot of questions for Morris to answer.
There is one stance the owner has taken that could help a sale be pushed through though, with the Black and White Together supporters group revealing that he had told the administrators he was willing to let go of Pride Park as part of a potential club sale.
It’s clear Mel Morris and/or his company that bought the stadium shouldn’t be making a single penny out of the 33,598-capacity arena after seeing the club go into administration, because this is a cost the Rams could do without.
Numerous clubs’ owners in the EFL have purchased their stadium as a loophole to avoid breaking profit and sustainability rules, but that sort of move does make many fans feel uneasy. Many people believe the stadium should belong to the club and the fans, not a company, and you can see their point.
But what Morris is doing is the very minimum he should be doing – and arguably – letting the stadium go for free would be the right thing to do in this situation with their off-field problems causing so many problems for Wayne Rooney’s men on the pitch.
This move will help to make any potential sale much more attractive, so it’s a promising bit of news in a dark time for Derby fans and something that should give supporters a real cause for optimism going into the coming weeks and months.
Any good news is welcomed, but achieving that all-important sale will be vital and they seemed to have taken one step closer in doing that with this update on Morris’ stance.