Wayne Rooney pleads for end to Derby takeover saga as Nottingham Forest win feisty 'Brian Clough Trophy'

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Wayne Rooney - Wayne Rooney pleads for end to Derby takeover saga as Nottingham Forest win feisty 'Brian Clough Trophy' - GETTY IMAGES
Wayne Rooney - Wayne Rooney pleads for end to Derby takeover saga as Nottingham Forest win feisty 'Brian Clough Trophy' - GETTY IMAGES

It may be some time before the Brian Clough Trophy is contested again, and Derby County are now facing a crucial 10 days in their future. With the threat of liquidation hanging over them, the situation is critical as Derby’s administrators race to secure a preferred bidder who can provide the funds to finish the season and then, finally, complete a takeover.

Derby have been in administration for four months and must show the Football League proof of the finance needed to fulfil their remaining fixtures by Feb 1, or risk expulsion. Three parties, including former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, are interested in purchasing the club and against this turbulent backdrop, manager Wayne Rooney continues to enhance his reputation.

This was the 100th league meeting between these famous old clubs, with Forest extending their unbeaten run against their rivals down the Brian Clough Way dual carriageway to 10 matches. Now the focus will turn to Quantuma, the Derby administrators, who are charged with saving one of English football’s founder members from going bust.

Rooney said: “It’s a terrible position to be in for myself, the players, the staff and the supporters. It needs sorting quickly. The administrators are confident and we’ll wait and see. I know everyone is working extremely hard to get us out of this position. We need funding, we need firm bidders to help this club exist. If that’s not the case we’ll get to the end of the transfer window and see where we’re at. We’ve had assurances we don’t have to sell players, but we need somebody in. I’ve got players lined up to sign but the existence of the club is far more important.”

American businessmen Colin and Adam Binnie are the latest to register an interest, tabling a £28 million bid. With Derby’s finances due to run out in the second week of next month, the bid from the Binnies, founders of New England investment firm Carlisle Capital, will be seen as a significant boost as the club battle to avoid liquidation. Crucially, it is understood that the group are prepared to take on any financial liabilities in the future if the club lose the compensation claims from Middlesbrough and Wycombe.

The bid does not, however, include the purchase of Pride Park stadium, still owned by former owner Mel Morris. They are the third group to express an interest in buying Derby, but their offer is not the biggest on the table. Former Derby chairman Andrew Appleby and his group have already submitted a bid of over £30 million and held talks with the Football League, while Ashley is preparing his own offer. It is understood Ashley’s group have already been shown around Pride Park and the club’s training ground. The next week promises to be pivotal in Derby’s immediate future, with relegation to League One still a genuine threat after a deduction of 21 points.

This was Derby’s first defeat in six matches, but the fight and commitment displayed by the players has underlined the outstanding job Rooney is doing under such severe restrictions, and he is thought to be under consideration for the post at Everton, after the sacking of Rafael Benitez.

In a bad-tempered, scrappy encounter, which included Derby’s Ravel Morrison sparking a huge melee late on after he was sent off, Forest continue their upward momentum under head coach Steve Cooper. Forest are now in sight of the play-offs and were excellent in the second half, with Lewis Grabban putting them ahead in the 48th minute with his 13th goal of the season. Brennan Johnson – the son of former Forest forward David – converted the second from close range before Tom Lawrence’s penalty for Derby two minutes from the end. Morrison, a substitute, was dismissed for a dreadful challenge on Philip Zinckernagel and confronted by a number of players before he left the field.

Wayne Rooney pleads for end to Derby takeover saga as Nottingham Forest win feisty clash - PA
Wayne Rooney pleads for end to Derby takeover saga as Nottingham Forest win feisty clash - PA

After the final whistle he appeared to come back out on the pitch in an attempt to continue a row with Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba. Forest deserved their third successive win and have not lost against their bitter rivals since October 2017. Cooper said: “We had calm heads and once we changed it tactically for the second half I thought we were in total control. We were definitely worthy winners and we’re making small steps.”

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