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Derby County: US businessman Chris Kirchner declares intention to buy club in open letter


Derby County's Pride Park ground
Administrators Quantuma are hopeful that a buyer will be found for Derby County

US businessman Chris Kirchner has said he is interested in taking over Derby County.

The Championship club have been in administration since 22 September, which triggered a 12-point deduction leaving them bottom of the table.

Kirchner is the co-founder of global logistics company Slync.io and confirmed his intention to buy the Rams in an open letter to supporters.

The 34-year-old said owning a club would be a “childhood dream come true”.

Administrators Quantuma have said they want to identify three preferred bidders by the end of the year.

Former Derby owner Andy Appleby is believed to have registered an interest, but last month Quantuma said they had not been approached by Mike Ashley, who recently sold Newcastle United.

Kirchner is the first person to go public over plans to buy the Rams.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, now based in Texas, he posted in a Twitter thread:external-link “I’m not a billionaire… not sure this matters. However I’ve done well enough to acquire and fund a club.

“The administrators are very diligent and required a minimum of £100m in proof of liquidity to even get to the point I am at in the process.

“As things go with this process I will continue to share as I am legally able to while being respectful of the EFL and the administrators. They are both doing a wonderful job, care about the future of the club and will not let anything like some of the past public debacles happen again.”

BBC Radio Derby have approached Quantuma about Kirchner’s potential involvement and are awaiting a response.

Graeme Shinnie
Graeme Shinnie’s goal enabled Derby to draw 1-1 at Coventry City on Saturday

Willing to work through complexities

Kirchner has already attended a game at Pride Park and said he was “impressed with the attitude of manager Wayne Rooney”, the rest of the coaching staff and players, and he plans to be there again when they face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

In his letter, he said: “While the club is currently going through a really tough time, it is the supporters, and everyone associated with the club that have stayed loyal which provide the foundation to rebuild again.

“This challenge is one I don’t take lightly but is something I am looking forward to – and I know we can prove successful at – if we work together.

“I want to be a part of that rebuild and support that effort. As an entrepreneur I am committed to building companies and I want to apply that experience towards rebuilding this proud and storied club.”

He continued: “At this point in time, the administration process is complex, but I have informed the administrators that I’m willing to work through these complexities.

“I understand and acknowledge that there are a number of interested parties in the club, but I wanted to go on the record at the start of the process and be up front.”

Derby, who have not played in the Premier League since 2008, have appealed the points deduction on the grounds that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic caused the club to go into administration.

‘His intentions seem correct’

Owner Mel Morris agreed sales to Abu Dhabi-based group Bin Zayed International (BZI) and Spanish businessman Erik Alonso earlier this year but both deals collapsed.

Kirchner’s letter concluded: “The best stories in life often start after a setback and the best years of Derby County FC are without a doubt in front of us.

“Hopefully, we will have the chance to be better than ever before and together write our own chapters in the illustrious history of DCFC! Up the Rams!”

Former Rams defender Charlie Palmer told BBC Radio Derby’s Sportscene that Kirchner’s intentions “seem correct”.

But he said a lot of discussions would have to take place before any would-be buyer could conclude a deal.

“They need to get to the nitty gritty, find out what all the issues are to make sure they can address and resolve those problems. Hopefully they can put in the money required, pay off the debts and start taking this club further up the league,” Palmer added.

“Wayne is doing a great job with his hands tied. It’s going to be interesting when money does become available, with his contacts and the way he wants the game to be played, (whether) he will be able to bring in the players which could take this club to the next level.

“I’m hoping when the right person comes in, they can give him the support and the financial clout to take this club forward because he deserves that opportunity.”

Analysis

BBC Radio Derby’s Chris Coles

Just to see communication from Chris Kirchner already puts him ahead of the likes of BZI and Sheikh Khaled.

That saga went on for a long, long time and there was lots of excitement about what they could bring to the table.

He’s said all the right things. If you make sure you’re very complimentary about the club you’re buying and you throw in something like ‘Up The Rams’ at the end then you get lots of people onside.

Quantuma have already shown they are only willing to enter into dialogue with those who are deadly serious and hence they have demanded, not just from Chris Kirchner but from other interested parties, proof of funds and evidence of the cash required to take Derby out of this position.

Despite it feeling different, it is still very early stages so fans will be optimistic, but wary, after what’s happened before.

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