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Less than three years ago, Derby County were 90 minutes away from reaching the Premier League, ultimately losing a hard-fought contest with Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final after beating Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in the semis. But while both of those clubs are now in the English top flight, Derby are not only languishing in the relegation zone of the second tier after being docked 21 points for entering administration and breaching the English Football League’s profitability and sustainability rules, but face expulsion from the Football League and the prospect of folding altogether, which would bring an end to the club’s 138-year history.
The Rams have been looking for new owners since 2019, following years of financial mismanagement under Mel Morris. But after multiple failed takeovers, their efforts have now been hampered by legal challenges from Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, who claim the club held an unfair advantage over them due to their rule breaches, something which could cost Derby up to £40million. Any new owner would have to write off debts of around £60million on top of this, so taking over at Pride Park is less than ideal for prospective buyers. Meanwhile, supporters were recently issued a warning following allegations of “abuse and personal attacks” directed at the club’s administrators.
But how did Derby get into such big trouble? Who is to blame? And what will happen next? With the future of one of England’s most historic clubs in the balance, let’s take a look.
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