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Mike Ashley contacts Derby’s administrators to confirm interest in buying club

Former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is still interested in buying Derby (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is still interested in buying Derby (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mike Ashley has contacted Derby’s administrators to confirm he retains an interest in the club.

American businessman Chris Kirchner, named as the preferred bidder in April, failed to meet Friday’s 5pm deadline to show he was in a position to complete his deal to buy the club.

Former Newcastle owner Ashley has written to Derby’s administrators Quantuma, via his lawyers, saying he “remains willing and ready to transact”. A copy of the letter has been seen by the PA news agency.

Mike Ashley, left, sold Newcastle to a Saudi Arabian consortium in October
Mike Ashley (left) sold Newcastle to a Saudi Arabian consortium in October (Steven Paston/PA)

Kirchner’s failure to prove he had the funds in place to complete the takeover prompted Quantuma to announce on Thursday that they were “continuing discussions with other interested parties”.

Ashley first showed interest in buying Derby in October after he had sold Newcastle, but he made clear in his letter to Quantuma that he did not want “to be treated as a contingency measure and would require some form of security” before resuming possible takeover talks.

Quantuma said on Friday that Kirchner had still not given up on completing his deal and added in an update on Saturday it was “engaging with a number of parties who have expressed a desire to acquire the club”.

It added in a statement: “Mr Kirchner is one of those parties, as he continues to seek to provide us with satisfactory evidence that he is in a position to complete the acquisition of the club.”

Quantuma also said its staff had been subjected “to a tirade of unfounded abuse”, which it blamed on “inaccurate reporting”.

It said: “The level of inaccuracies being reported is divisive and is unnecessarily driving both a rumour mill and growing anxiety, uncertainty and ill-feeling amongst supporters.”

The English Football League said on Friday that it had serious concerns over Derby’s future and called on Quantuma to show how they planned to take the club out of administration.

The EFL, which had given conditional approval to Kirchner’s ownership, said: it was “incredibly frustrated at the time it is taking to conclude this sale”.

Derby fans group RamsTrust wrote to Quantuma on Saturday expressing its frustration, saying it was “extremely fearful” the club would be unable to compete in Sky Bet League One next season.

RamsTrust said in its letter: “We are disheartened that you have not been able to bring Derby County out of administration, as another deadline has passed, despite your best efforts.

“We are now extremely fearful that the EFL will not be able to allow the club to start the next football season.”

RamsTrust urged Quantuma to clarify that all potential buyers were being pursued “to select the best offer as soon as possible”.

Quantuma said in its statement: “The joint administrators wish to reassure all parties and supporters that they do not discriminate against any party, if a bid is deliverable and credible.”

Kirchner exchanged contracts with the joint administrators for Derby on May 16. The Rams were relegated from the Sky Bet Championship last season having been docked 21 points over their financial problems.

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