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Chris Kirchner close to Derby takeover after ‘most difficult’ business deal

Derby County v Fulham – Sky Bet Championship – Pride Park Stadium
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Chris Kirchner says the deal to buy Derby has given him “a lot of sleepless nights” but is now close to completion.

Kirchner spoke about his painstaking efforts to take control of the club after the EFL Board said it had been advised that a deal to take Derby out of administration was not far away.

The Rams’ joint administrators last month named American software entrepreneur Kirchner as the preferred bidder for the club, who were recently relegated from the Sky Bet Championship.

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Speaking to Derby’s in-house Rams TV, Kirchner said: “It has been a lot of sleepless nights, the stress of getting it done.

“It is probably one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult deal I have ever tried to do in business for a wide array of reasons.

“In terms of where we are right now, I wouldn’t be here if we weren’t close.

“The EFL process, there is a little bit of things may be around the business plan for the next year we need to do, but that is really it in that process.

“I think they (the EFL) have put out a statement reflecting some of that, and then it just comes down to the stadium.”

Kirchner ended his initial interest in the club in December but recently returned to negotiations as Derby, managed by former England captain Wayne Rooney, headed for League One.

Derby were placed in administration last September and issued with a regulation 12-point penalty as a result, as well as being hit with an additional nine-point penalty for breaches of accounting rules.

Kirchner’s bid to buy the club has faced a major stumbling block in respect of its Pride Park stadium, which is still owned by former chairman Mel Morris.

Blackpool v Derby County – Sky Bet Championship – Bloomfield Road

Derby manager Wayne Rooney was unable to save the club from relegation after it was hit by a 21-point deduction (Martin Rickett/PA)

He said: “It is just the way the entities under the previous owner were tied together.

“The stadium and the rights to that stadium are intertwined for a lot of those.

“Without getting too detailed or too complex, obviously to have a club and to have a deal officially approved by the EFL you have to have a lease or own a ground.

“You have to have somewhere to play and so for all those reasons it’s tied in.

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“Because it is not part of the administration it has added a layer of complexity in trying to get this deal done because of the different parties that have to make decisions on it.”

A statement from the EFL on Thursday said: “The EFL Board has today been advised that a deal to take Derby County out of administration and under the ownership of Mr Chris Kirchner is nearing completion.

“Evidence of source and sufficiency of funding has now been provided but there still remain a number of outstanding challenges to be resolved.

“As a result, the Board has instructed the Executive to continue its discussions with Mr Kirchner and his representatives in regard to finalising the terms of a membership agreement.

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“However, a significant issue remains in respect of the status of the stadium (Pride Park) and Mr Kirchner continues in dialogue with the relevant parties as to how this can be resolved. It is clear that the complexity associated with this aspect of the transaction is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

“The EFL acknowledges the current time pressures relating to Mr Kirchner’s position as preferred bidder and will seek to conclude matters as soon as possible in line with requirements as set out in the League’s insolvency policy.

“The League will be making no further comment at this time.”

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