Derby County takeover just got ‘trickier’ as finance expert reveals Chris Kirchner’s top priority

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire says Mel Morris’s decision not to put the company that owns Pride Park into administration has made “delicate work more delicate” for the club’s administrators.

American businessman Chris Kirchner is in pole position to secure a takeover of the club, having received Football League approval on the condition that he can resolve the issues surrounding the club’s stadium. Negotiations are ongoing with the club’s former owner, Morris, over the land he parted ways with the club in 2018 and used Gellaw NewCo 202 to acquire.

Their accounts were published on Tuesday night, which show the stadium is still valued at £81m and a deal needs to be struck with Morris for the Kirchner takeover to proceed. The situation has created an additional headache for the club’s administrators as a stadium deal is beyond their control, with Morris reportedly asking £23m for it.

Read more: Kieran Maguire sends message to Derby County after ‘Mel Morris experience’

Read more: Football finance expert delivers Derby County verdict as Pride Park update comes to light

MSD Holdings is believed to be in excess of £15m after Morris took out a loan which was secured against Pride Park and will have to be settled by the former Derby chairman.

And Maguire, who is host of the Price of Football podcast, said: “By not putting the stadium in the set of businesses that have been taken over, Mel Morris has created an insurance policy for himself because so much money was owed to MSD, which should have been fully refunded as it has personal guarantees.

“So it has made delicate work more delicate for the administrators because it is difficult to sell all the assets of Derby County Football Club unless you can, at the same time, have some form of agreement on where where they are going to play football. .

“It gives us an extra layer of complication. Without the stadium it makes things very difficult. I’m a Brighton fan and we played for two years at Gillingham. It wasn’t good. If the same faced in Derby and we heard Leicester and Stoke being mentioned, it would have an impact on attendance which has been very good.

“We saw what happened when Coventry went to Birmingham. But if you eventually come back to Pride Park then that’s less of a problem. But it’s certainly less than ideal. The good thing is that there seems to be progress with regard to the cession of land.

“The accounts of the company that owns the stadium came out on Tuesday evening. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not. It’s hard to really draw too many conclusions. It’s still on the books, there at 81 million. I suspect Mr Morris won’t sell it for £81m.”

The target date for Kirchner’s takeover has been set for May 31, which is next week, but if the deal goes through, he will inherit a blank canvas. With just six players under contract for next season, Derby will need to act quickly in order to build a competitive squad for the League One campaign.

Derby manager Wayne Rooney has already admitted he may need to sign 40 players this summer in the first team and academy, but will no doubt be hoping to re-sign a host of those who no longer have contract with the club. Either way, a huge summer rebuild will take place and Maguire believes one of the most immediate priorities will be to give Rooney a competitive budget.

“Chris Kirchner will acquire the assets of Derby County Football Club limited and the other satellite companies which form part of the administration process,” he said. “The assets he’s going to acquire himself and pay for, and we don’t know how much he’s paying, will consist of pieces around the offices.

“We also have some player registrations, the share they have in the EFL and not much else. The first thing is to establish a competitive budget. is that he will try to have something similar to a Sunderland budget in League 1 and Derby County is going to be a big fish in this division.

“There’s no doubt about that. But they won’t be alone. We have Sheffield Wednesday there, Portsmouth are a decent sized club. There are also a few others who will make life difficult. And that that we’re also seeing between the Championship in League One, and we’re talking about the yo-yo situation between the Premier League and the Championship, well, it’s also the same between the Championship and League One because of the significant difference in terms of TV money.

“He (Kirchner) needs to be able to recruit. He has a broadcast budget next year of £1.5-2m. That’s a 75% cut. At the same time. I think most people would think Wayne Rooney is likely to be the highest-paid manager in Ligue 1 by a considerable margin. There’s that ongoing cost too.

“But the positive thing here is that if the club have a good start to the season, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t sell out every game because they have a very dedicated fan base. And also, having been through all the trauma of 2021/22, it will hopefully be a much more enjoyable experience provided recruitment is good.”

Are you sure a deal for Pride Park will be done? Have your say in the comments section below…