Supporters groups met with the Derby County administrators on 15th December 2021 and these questions provided by RamsTrust members were answered.
1.1 Your timescales have slipped from the original plan, and your recent intentions to announce a preferred bidder have not yet come through. Are the delays still connected to HMRC negotiations?
1.2 What is your timetable now:
b as far as any expressions of interest are concerned?
We set ambitious targets regarding identifying a purchaser and whilst these may have been pushed back, the process is still very active. We expect to identify the preferred bidder next week and to complete a sale in or around February 2022. The delay is not directly related to HMRC.
2.1 Are there still interested parties at this stage, if so, are you willing to explain? In particular, how serious their intentions are and how quickly could they proceed?
Yes, we are very much engaged with interested parties who have the serious intention of purchasing the club. All offers differ markedly in terms of structure, exit route from administration etc and so we are still considering them. They will complete as soon as possible subject to the timetable involved in implementing a CVA or Restructuring Plan should either be necessary.
We do not expect ‘new’ interested parties to emerge now but it can never be ruled out.
2.2 What assessment is being done of the ability of the buyers to fund the club beyond this season and in League 1?
As part of the process of selecting a preferred bidder, parties have had to demonstrate that they can provide sufficient funds for the purchase of the club and its future working capital requirements including in the eventuality of relegation to League One. This is an ongoing process.
The EFL are also engaged with interested parties and Quantuma as part of the process.
3.1 Are the negotiations with HMRC still continuing or have they been concluded? As it will be public knowledge shortly, can you confirm the current stage they are at?
We have had very positive discussions with HMRC and have submitted a proposal to them. Communications will continue with them. A formal agreement has not been reached but we expect to formalise their position via a CVA or Restructuring Plan as required in due course.
3.2 If HMRC does refuse to reduce their claim to set a precedent, is there any hope of a sale? Is a 25-year repayment plan possible?
As above, our discussions have been positive and we expect to formalise their position as part of a CVA or Restructuring Plan rather than as part of a repayment plan post-sale.
3.3 Can you coordinate between the preferred bidder & HMRC to reach an agreed figure? How close do you think you are?
Once the preferred buyer is announced, HMRC will of course have the relevant conversations with Quantuma and the buyer to take the settlement forward.
4. Exiting Administration
4.1 Is a CVA still an option at this stage or is a restructuring plan being considered? What happens if you do not get approval?
Both remain possibilities at present. Which strategy is ultimately pursued will depend on which preferred bidder is selected, the ongoing discussions with HMRC and with the other football clubs. Any idea when a creditors meeting may be called, if a restructuring plan is proposed?
4.2 Any idea when a creditors meeting may be called, if a restructuring plan is proposed?
Should we propose a Restructuring Plan we would expect a creditors meeting to take place in February.
5. Mel Morris and MSD
What is the situation regarding Pride Park Stadium and negotiations involving Mel Morris and MSD?
The position remains the same at present. All interested parties want to buy the stadium as part of the acquisition.
Have you clarified the situation with the Asset of Community Value status on both Pride Park and Moor Farm? Could this cause any delays?
We have had further advice and we do not believe this will hold matters up.
7. Short-term Funding
With no indication that a sale is near completion, presumably there are insufficient funds to trade until the end of the season. How will this be rectified?
As explained above we expect a sale to be completed before the end of the season and, in any event, the viability of the trading strategy and cash position is constantly under review. At present, there are sufficient funds to enable trading to continue.
8. Middlesbrough and Wycombe
8.1 Why are we negotiating with Middlesbrough and Wycombe if they have no case? The claims are huge.
We are addressing these claims now so the prospective purchasers have certainty. Any legal challenge would take months and would slow down the sale. If settlements can be reached that could allow a CVA to be entered into as an exit route from administration. A consensual resolution would be preferable for all parties.
8.2 Is there anything RamsTrust could do to help with the legal cases from Middlesbrough and Wycombe? We have seen multiple reports that other supporters and journalists are not happy with these cases and feel it could set a very dangerous precedent for all clubs. Would it help for us to approach the other clubs / Trusts or the media to highlight this injustice?
We have no objections to you holding discussions with your respective counterparts at the other clubs involved.
9 Women’s Team
Can you confirm whether negotiations for the club include the Women’s team as well? How are they affected by a takeover?
The Derby County FC Women are a completely separate entity with an independent board of trustees, but the Club has two seats on their Board. They are not affected by the current situation, other than the club does agree a set budgeted financial contribution to support them at the start of each season. It is envisaged that a new owner would continue to embrace them and possibly even bring them closer. This is the same for the Community Trust.
10 Players and Staff
10.1 If the deal is not done by mid-Jan, can we assume we start selling players? Have you identified any particular players to sell and their valuations? What estimate have you made of how long the club can survive on money raised by sales?
Player sales have not been considered in detail. We are focusing on the sale of the club. Once a preferred bidder is established we will be able to better assess whether player sales will be necessary. No such considerations would take place without consultation with Wayne Rooney.
10.2 Would a takeover have to be entirely complete for the club to have access to the transfer market, or are there interim milestones that might allow that to happen earlier?
The club can bring in players in January but as you know the club is already prevented from paying transfer fees or loan fees due to the current embargo which is in place until June 2022.
10.3 Will any further player loans be allowed?
As above, no loan fee can be paid due to the embargo and the availability of funds for additional wages will be determined by the sale process in relation to the club.
10.4 In our last meeting, you indicated that scholars from the Academy would not count against the squad limit of 25, but subsequently needed to get this confirmed. Can you confirm now whether scholars do count, and how many positions we have now taken (after recent use of a number of younger players)?
Yes, they do count, anybody that meets the definition of a “player” per the EFL regulations would count if they made 3 starts. Substitute appearances do not count.
10.5 You indicated last time that you had turned down bids for some of our players. However, Wayne Rooney said he was not aware that any clubs had been in touch regarding any of our players. Have you discussed this with him?
We have only had bids for Academy players since the start of the Administration, but all transfer strategy and scenario planning surrounding the playing squad will be discussed with the Manager.
10.6 What is the situation regarding staff generally, are all key employees still being kept on – particularly the coaching staff? Will any be asked to take a pay cut?
We are not currently considering further staffing cuts although funds are very tight and the club’s finances remain under constant review.
11 Next Meeting
When will the next meeting with the fans take place?
We suggest week commencing 17 January. Date to be agreed with Ang Allen.