From the verge of promotion to oblivion: Derby County in administration
Oliver Rickwood discusses Derby County, who have officially entered administration and have been deducted 12 points by the English Football League, sending them to the bottom of the Championship table.
Manager Wayne Rooney has promised to stay and “fight” for the club, despite revealing that Mel Morris, the club chairman, had last spoken directly to him nearly two months ago, on August 9. Rooney even admitted feeling ‘disrespected’ when he told reporters that the announcement of the club’s fate reached the team camp through a TV news report.
Mel Morris had originally promised to “steer the club into a sustainable Premier League position” when he became the sole owner of the club in September 2015. After several failed attempts to reach the top flight, including a heart-breaking loss in the 2019 Playoff final, and despite pumping over £100 million of his own money into the club, Morris noted that the effect of the global pandemic and the lack of a potential buyer has forced the club into this financial situation.
Even Europe’s elite have not been exempt from such issues, as shown by FC Barcelona’s struggles with wage bills and financial limits imposed by La Liga this summer. The departure of Lionel Messi became the symbol of this transfer window, a reminder of how quickly and dramatically the fortunes of a club can change.
However, for Derby County fans, maybe this downwards spiral was inevitable. A series of huge yearly financial losses since 2016 prompted one final push for promotion under Frank Lampard in 2019. If a club is promoted, sanctions from the Football League cannot be placed upon those in the Premier League; this could have been the great escape for Derby. Ultimately, they failed.
A common issue for Championship clubs in football today is the obsession with the Premier League. Although it is the ‘holy grail’ of English football, fans would question: how much would an owner risk to get to the top division? And in the case of Derby County, it seems that the entire future of the club was put on the line.
Many have questioned the severity of the punishment handed to Derby, given the outrageous plans for the European Super League earlier this year, in which Europe’s biggest clubs seemed to escape without serious repercussions. It seems incredibly unfair that English clubs who formed an allegiance that opposed the values of the game were left virtually undisciplined, whereas a struggling Championship club is being damaged further by multiple fines and sanctions, purely because of financial complications that have been evident for years.
The following months will be crucial for the future of the football club with further points deductions still being a possibility. Twenty members of staff have also lost their jobs as administrators begin to cut the costs at the club.
On the pitch, however, Rooney is beginning to see a reaction from his team, as they have impressively overcome the points deficit already, after their 1-0 win over Reading left them on a points total of +1. Rooney has made efforts to boost morale in the dressing room and has been reportedly using a different league table without Derby’s point deduction to motivate the team. Whatever he is doing seems to be working.
Rooney deserves huge credit in this situation. In this time of financial struggle, by focusing solely on the football on the pitch, he has already begun the healing process for Derby County Football Club, and for all the people to whom it means so much.