Derby County’s never-ending nightmare is taking its toll on the club’s loyal employees
Derby County’s endless nightmare takes its toll on the club’s loyal staff as large community institution figures lament lack of action from key parties
- Chris Kirchner saw his bid for the club collapse while playing golf last week
- Derby has been in the administration since last year with a lot of uncertainty
- Club figures say Wayne Rooney has been a shining light everywhere
When his bid to buy Derby County collapsed last week, Chris Kirchner was playing golf with Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia. It was the perfect snapshot of the surreal, farcical and desperate times this club has been going through for over a year.
Six days earlier, Kirchner, an American businessman specializing in logistics, had told Rams fans there was “nothing to worry about” after missing a May 31 deadline to finalize his acquisition.
It was clear that this was not the case. By Monday, Kirchner had withdrawn from the race.
Derby County relegated to League One last season after deducting 21 points
Derby has been in administration since September 22 and now the future of manager Wayne Rooney, who had backed Kirchner’s bid, is in doubt. If he is still in office when pre-season training begins later this month, in the current situation he would have just five senior players under contract for the League One campaign ahead.
Administrators Quantuma have driven just about everyone mad with frustration at the length of time it took to close the deal.
It’s hard to find people who are impressed with their way of handling the case. Now the EFL has more control over proceedings, with the League One games announced on Thursday amid fears Derby won’t be able to start the season.
The uncertainty is terrible for players and fans, but it’s even worse for ordinary employees, the vast majority of whom are not paid as well as the players, but still have an equal stake in the company.
Wayne Rooney endorsed Kirchner’s offer and the pair had developed a positive relationship
They have seen friends and colleagues lose their jobs and have had to work in constant uncertainty.
“Scrolling through social media and seeing it all does take its toll,” says an employee. “It’s hard to read words like ‘liquidation’. You have friends and family messages telling you, “Did you see this?” or, “Is this going to affect you?” People understandably get emotional and ask why they haven’t been updated.”
Employees have complained about Quantuma’s lack of communication. They’ve been getting their paychecks all along, but unsurprisingly, morale — in the words of one former employee — was “at an all-time low.”
“There were tears when we heard that people were leaving,” they said. ‘A lot of people who work at Derby are fans. We had to adapt, but people really care.’
American businessman Chris Kirchner failed to meet the deadline to prove he had the money for Derby
Rooney has improved his reputation despite being relegated in his first full season as manager. Deductions totaling 21 points meant that the former England captain was fighting an uphill battle throughout, yet he remained optimistic about the road ahead.
In April he said: ‘I want to rebuild this club, but the takeover has to happen. If not, I’m very insecure about my future and that of the club. This takeover has to happen quickly.’
Not only did the takeover drag on, the man Rooney hoped would take control is now out of the picture.
Former chairman Andy Appleby has made an offer and is listed along with former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and ex-Wolves chairman Steve Morgan.
Employees have said manager Wayne Rooney has been a shining light through the nightmare
Whether Rooney would like to stay under changed circumstances is up for debate. If he were to leave, it would be another blow to the workers who have had to bear such a huge burden.
‘He has been a shining light,’ says a permanent employee. “There have been so many instances where he could have run away, but he didn’t. Despite how famous he is and what he has accomplished, everyone feels able to talk to him.”
All everyone wants now is an end to the nightmare. It is the responsibility of the trustees, the EFL, the bidders and former owner Mel Morris to sit around a table and make sure their wish is granted. This great club has suffered enough.