Businessman Mike Ashley’s interest in purchasing Derby County is ‘waning’ due to the obstacles that currently stand in the way of a takeover, according to Sky Sports News (21/1; 4:42pm).
The Sports Direct shareholder no longer owns Premier League side Newcastle United after their takeover in October, with it previously being unclear whether he would return to football ownership in the future following a turbulent spell at St James’ Park.
Despite the Magpies spending the vast majority of their time under Ashley’s stewardship in the top-tier – they were relegated to the Championship twice and he often came in for heavy criticism for some of his decisions.
Quiz: Have each of these 25 ex-Derby County players ever played in the Premier League?
Nonetheless, he was reported to be interested in stricken side Derby, who entered administration back in September and have endured a rough time off the pitch since the summer with transfer embargos and points deductions putting them in real danger of being relegated to the third tier of English football.
They have given themselves real hope of staying afloat though, with Wayne Rooney taking his side to within eight points of safety following their victory against Sheffield United last weekend and will be hoping to close that gap further when they face Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
And things looked even more promising off the pitch when it was reported by The Sun that Ashley was prepared to enter negotiations in a bid to clear the pathway to a takeover, with the Rams still in financial peril at this stage.
But Sky Sports reported yesterday evening that his interest is ebbing away considering the disputes they have with Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, Morris still owning Pride Park and other barriers to getting a deal done.
If this is the case, then that’s a shame for Derby who will want as many bidders at the table as possible to ensure their club survives for the remainder of the season and beyond.
Clearly, Ashley would have had the funds to buy the club following his sale of Newcastle and although he did split opinion on Tyneside, the Rams would have a football club if he was in charge and that has to be the most important thing at this stage.
As well as that, the businessman wasn’t guaranteed to be staying in the East Midlands for the long term, potentially steadying the ship before moving on once again and that would have been ideal for the club knowing how shrewd he is in business.
There does seem to be plenty of interest still, however, and there are no guarantees that the ex-Magpie has fully pulled out of the race so this is hope Derby fans cling on to as they face a nervy few days coming up.
An agreement does need to be sorted soon though – because the liquidation of the Rams would be a stain on the game like the demise of Bury was.