RamsTrust meeting with Administrators 03/11/2021

On Wednesday 3rd of November, RamsTrust met with Quantuma, Derby’s administrators, at Pride Park Stadium to find out more information about the current status of the club. Below are the answers provided to the questions fielded by RamsTrust members and the Black & White Together supporters group.

  • Do you have a date yet for the EFL appeal on the 12 points deduction?

A further meeting is taking place with the EFL next week. The Club’s appeal will be determined in the near future and certainly by the end of November 2021. The judgment will also be released publicly.

  • Has there been any progress on discussions with the EFL over the further points penalty for Profit & Sustainability?

Discussions with the EFL remain ongoing.

  • Do you have a date for discussion with HMRC over outstanding debts or has any progress been made?

We have had initial sensible discussions with HMRC and will continue to correspond with them in writing and with further meetings.

  • Have any of the interested parties lodged the further deposit for access to the ‘data room’ yet, or will that only come after the above issues are resolved?

Several parties have been provided with access to the data room. However at present we are not asking for deposits, merely proof of funds. The interested party sales process is taking place concurrently with the discussions with key stakeholders i.e. EFL, HMRC etc.

  • Are any of the interested parties sufficiently far through the process to begin engaging with supporters?

We are aware that one of the interested parties has issued an open letter to fans to declare their interest and attended the game on Saturday. There are a number of interested parties with whom we are in discussions. There is not, at this time, a preferred party nor have we entered into any exclusivity agreement with one party.

  • Has the Creditors meeting been called yet? Have all creditors been contacted?

All known creditors were notified within a few days of our appointment in accordance with our statutory duties. Our Proposals report will be issued within 8 weeks of our appointment (within 2 weeks). Please note, it is unlikely that a creditors meeting will be required as it is not a statutory necessity. We are likely to seek approval of our proposals by deemed consent and indeed we do not have the ability to call an in-person meeting in any event. There may be a creditors meeting in due course depending on the chosen exit route from administration which is still to be determined. Whether or not a creditors meeting takes place, there will be an opportunity to form a creditors committee.

  • Is the sale of the club going to be to the highest credible bidder or are there other considerations? What criteria will they use in deciding between bidders? As well as financial, will they also take into account commitment to good governance, sustainability, and fan and community engagement?

An administrator’s primary duty is to act in the best interests of creditors. Whilst that usually means selling to the highest bidder, there can be other considerations. In the event of the company exiting administration and continuing to trade (which is a distinct possibility depending on the deal structure) then we would ensure that the purchaser has the means to operate in a sustainable manner to that extent that it is reasonable to do so. As you know any purchaser must pass the EFL fit and proper test.

  • As things stand, if a new buyer doesn’t come in, will Derby County complete the championship season?

If we reach the stage where there are no credible interested parties and all options have been exhausted, the companies in administration will go into liquidation or be dissolved as appropriate. However, as previously stated, that is not considered to be a likely outcome. This is only an eventuality if all existing bidders were to pull out and no further parties come forward. We anticipate 3-4 of the existing interested parties will put forward viable bids for the club.

  • Is Mel Morris involved with any if the interested parties so far?

There are no indications that anyone associated with Mel Morris – either now or in the past – has involvement with any existing interested parties,

  • Assuming there has been no sale by the time the January window opens, what’s the plan for the short term deals brought in during the summer? How engaged are the Administrators in assessing current contracts for active first team players? Some players will start to devalue if they are not offered new deals. Have any discussions taken place with the EFL over terms of the embargo going forward.

This has not been our immediate focus but is something that will be addressed in the coming weeks.

  • The Sun recently reported that the club would be required to provide proof of funding for the whole season and not the next few months as expected. How has this affected the plans of the administrators and does it affect the takeover timetable?

Short term funding has been secured and we have engaged fully with the EFL’s requests for information. That does not impact on the timeframe for finding a new owner of the club.

  • Can the administrators apply any pressure to the City Council to allow cash gates and boost attendance for both home and away fans at Pride Park? We took well over 3,000 to Coventry who, like many clubs, are allowing this. It’s frustrating when we keep being told this isn’t possible at Derby.

The stadium has operated as a cashless venue since July 2021 and for the vast majority of supporters this is a convenient payment method. Further, the cashless process enables the Club to adhere to the recommended hygiene and social distancing measures that are in place around the ground. Queuing times in both the ticket office and on the concourse are significantly reduced when using cashless payment methods. As part of the move to a cashless venue prior to the appointment of the Administrators, the Club removed some of the infrastructure in place that facilitated cash payments. Given therefore the existing cash flow pressures on the Club, the Administrators do not therefore consider it possible to return to accepting cash payments at present, and card payments cannot be accepted at the turnstiles.

  • Can more specific details be revealed about the status of the future ownership of Pride Park and Moor Farm and the current mortgage of Pride Park?

As you know the club does not own the stadium. It is however expected that the stadium will be sold as part of an overall package for the club. This would involve the repayment of the secured debt which is secured over the stadium, training ground and other club assets.

The training ground is occupied under a long lease. It would be proposed that this arrangement would remain upon the sale of the club. The training ground landlord has indicated their strong ongoing support for the club.

  • What significance do the Assets of Community Value statuses have on the sale of the club?

We are reviewing this but it is our current understanding that this will not delay a sales process.

  • Can the administrators consider the possibility of part ownership by fans by a release of shares to DCFC members and season ticket holders? 

The main priority is to secure a sale to a credible purchaser. We are happy to discuss the possibility of partial fans ownership with a prospective owner but ultimately the decision would be theirs.

  • Under freedom of information, can a summary of debts be advised? After all, if the annual accounts had been submitted we could have seen the status?

The directors have been requested to prepare a Statement of Affairs which will be submitted at Companies House. This will include a breakdown of creditors. That document will also be included within our Proposals report. As stated above, that report will be issued to creditors within 8 weeks of our appointment and will also be filed at Companies House.

  • Chris Kirchner has now gone public with his interest. How far has this gone? Is Kirchner part of a consortium, or alone? And have you contacted the EFL for at least an initial assessment of his suitability?

Due diligence has been done on Chris Kirchner and he has fulfilled all initial tests and been granted access to the data room. We understand that he is not part of a consortium, but the bid has not reached the stage of asking the EFL for an assessment.

  • If loans are currently required by the administrators as the club is not breaking even, is the club still loss making? If we are still losing money how will we be sustainable in the future?

The club has sufficient funding to see us through to January. The club is still loss making at present, but losses are lower then before Administration. New owners will need to submit a sustainable business plan to be accepted under EFL rules.

  • Is Darren Wassall still employed by DCFC? I have read that two under 15’s coaches have recently left the club to join Liverpool and Chelsea. What is the strategy going forward and will the club try to retain its Category 1 status ?

Yes, Darren Wassall is still employed at the Academy. The coaches have been replaced by promotion from within, and we are anxious to retain category 1 status. We have been assured all changes so far have not had any effect on this status.

The next 2 weeks should be very significant in terms of negotiations with concerned parties, and we would be keen to meet with supporter representatives again after this – the supporter groups should agree the format for these meetings.