EFL feels Middlesbrough and Wycombe claims are football-related debts for Derby

Derby County File Photo
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

The EFL says it disagrees with Derby’s belief that legal claims from Middlesbrough and Wycombe should not be treated as football-related debt.

Both clubs are seeking compensation relating to Derby’s breaching of financial rules, but the Rams believe that the governing body should not force them to defend the claims in order to keep its EFL membership.

But the EFL has rejected that stance, insisting that Boro and the Chairboys are creditors and should be paid.

It said in a statement: “Derby County is seeking to use insolvency legislation to avoid having to defend the claims of Middlesbrough FC (which commenced initially in January 2021) and Wycombe Wanderers.

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“Derby County considers those claims should not be treated as football related debts and that it would be wrong for the EFL to require the club to have to continue to defend the claims as a condition of continuing membership in circumstances where they have been compromised by way of a restructuring plan.

“The EFL does not agree with that analysis.

“At the request of the administrators, and in line with commitments given at last week’s meeting with local politicians, the EFL has provided a further clear statement to Quantuma of its position on the application of the Insolvency Policy, so as to enable them to apply to the High Court or engage in Arbitration to have that issue determined.

“It is now for the administrators to determine how they wish to move this matter forward and we remain willing to expedite any process, as necessary.

“The EFL has previously requested mediation between the two clubs and the administrators and is today inviting all relevant and associated parties involved to enter formal collaborative negotiations to actively seek out the compromises and solutions required to ensure that Derby County has a long-term future.”

Derby fans protest against the club ownership

Derby fans protest against the club ownership (Tim Goode/PA)

Meanwhile, one of the groups interested in buying Derby are understood to be getting increasingly frustrated at the apparent lack of progress in resolving the impasse caused by the legal claims.

The Binnie family made their bid for the Rams on January 13 in the knowledge that the claims existed.

But the PA news agency understands they are concerned that, as far as they see it, no meaningful movement has occurred since and that Boro and Wycombe’s decision to pursue those actions is driving Derby towards liquidation.

For the Binnie’s investment firm, Carlisle Capital, the risk of losing in court – however unlikely that may be – or the cost of settling the claims make the investment in Derby difficult to justify.

If other investors take the same view, liquidation of the club starts to look like the only remaining option.

Derby were placed into administration by the club’s then owner, Mel Morris, in September last year.

The Binnie family’s bid, understood to be in the region of £28million, excluded the stadium. Its intention would be to utilise an existing £1.1million annual commercial lease on the stadium and training ground.

On January 27 it was announced that a deadline for the club’s administrators to provide proof of funding through to the end of the season, which had been set for February 1, had been extended by one month.

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