Sunday, March 26, 2023

From Silencing Bielsa To Entering Administration: The Most Turbulent 2 Years In The History Of Derby County

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

The jubilation had no limits back in May 2019 when Derby County knocked Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United out from the Championship playoffs following the infamous ‘Spygate’ row. Nobody knew that the same club would enter administration just over two years later. Owner Mel Morris has now made the “gut-wrenching” decision in the aftermath of failed takeover talks despite interest from the Middle East, followed by Spanish businessman Erik Alonso earlier this year.

“It was a difficult, difficult decision, one of the most difficult I have ever had to make in my life. Was it one taken lightly? No, not at all. Was it one taken that I think is probably in the best interests long term of the club? Very probably.”

Said Morris while speaking to DerbyshireLive and BBC Radio Derby.

What Went Wrong For Derby County

As the club chairman is unable to pay the outstanding debts, the administrators would play by the rules and impose an automatic 12-point deduction. The Rams have already faced another 9-point penalty (under consideration till date) charge for FFP irregularities, and the transfer embargo enforced by EFL has jeopardised their future in the second tier of the English pyramid. Moreover, a further 3-point deduction would be implemented if they fail to pay wages by the end of this month.

Things could not have gone worse for Wayne Rooney, who had a steady start to the campaign after narrowly escaping a relegation scare last season. So far, they have gathered 10 points from 8 outings; however, the gaffer must pull off a miracle to overcome the potential 24-point deduction and retain their Championship status defying the odds.

Derby County boss Wayne Rooney in the dugout
Derby County v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – Pride Park Derby County manager Wayne Rooney on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Pride Park, Derby. Picture date: Saturday September 18, 2021. EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xBarringtonxCoombsx 62501374

While the transfer activity has been minimal in the summer (all free signings), the administrators might sanction fire sales in January unless a new owner steps in and rescues this prestigious football club. Rooney has pledged not to give up the fight, but the egress of star players would make it next to impossible for the legendary Manchester United forward.

What Lies Ahead

Since Morris secured the ownership of his hometown outfit, Derby had an array of unsuccessful promotion attempts despite being agonisingly close on one occasion. The playoff heartbreak persisted even after continuing the spending spree and dismissing several managers in a short span.

A Premier League advancement could have saved the side financially, but the aggressive approach from the Derbyshire-based businessman has now damaged the club severely. Many high-profile transfers did not work out over the years, and the top-flight objective remained unfulfilled, leading to a significant monetary setback.

Amid uncertainties over the immediate future, the Rams defeated Stoke City last weekend at Pride Park. The players must show character and grit to script a fairy tale in the upcoming fixtures. Also, the fans need to play a huge role to motivate the team from the stands. Dark days are ahead of them due to the ongoing predicament. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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