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‘A week later and Derby would’ve gone’ – owner David Clowes talks takeover and exciting plans

‘A week later and Derby would’ve gone’ – owner David Clowes talks about his takeover of the Rams and exciting plans for the club.

In a rare interview, he has opened up on being their saviour a year ago which saw them came very close to extinction.

The lifelong Derby fan is now looking forward to a new season without the dark cloud over them as their rebuild continues.

Last June, they found themselves on the brink of liquidation, but fast forward a year and they have restored hope, pride and good times, finishing just a point outside the League One playoff place at the end of the 2022/23 season and a lot of that thanks goes to Clowes along with everyone else.

“The club was on life support. If it had been any other business, you’d have walked away. It was in such a state,” he says on the £55 million takeover of Derby County, as per The Telegraph.

“I honestly believe that if we hadn’t done the deal on July 1 the club would have gone in another five days.

“There was no money left to pay the wages. It was the end of the road, as simple as that.

“The Football League were losing patience and there were all the added pressures of the season starting a week early because of the World Cup in Qatar. It was a very worrying time.”

Derby’s players, staff and supporters didn’t know what was happening, whether they were coming or going, debts racked up, the club was in administration, had 21 points deducted, breached financial rules and sold players for very little.

When Clowes came in, the club needed to over £30m to HMRC. Around £22 million was paid to MSD, an American investment company who owned Pride Park Stadium, along with outstanding payments to Arsenal for record signing Krystian Bielik and other creditors.

“There were things in there that left me gobsmacked, and we’ve looked at some basket cases over the years,” he continues.

“I didn’t understand the reasoning of why they went down certain routes. The amount of money spent on players for £4 million to £5 million who they never got a penny back for and went for nothing. You’re going to have big problems if you go down that road.

“When it went into administration, I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t see it coming.

“I thought the administrators would find someone by December, but that was before I knew how complex it was.”

Clowes recalls how he became more fearful over the club’s future in January 2022, attending a march which went from the city centre to Pride Park for the game against Birmingham

Administrators Quantuma were finding it tough to find a buyer, leading to Clowes expressing an interesting in May.

Chris Kirchner, the American businessman, wanted Clowes to buy the stadium after admitting he didn’t have the capital to do that, with Kirchner missing the June deadline, walked away from the deal, and Clowes then got in contact with Quantuma to initiate the buy-out.

“We approached them on June 9, signed NDAs and were given access to the data room. We cracked it in 17 days,” he says.

“As a local business I thought we had a duty of care. I’d never have forgiven myself if I’d just sat back. If Derby had become a phoenix club nine leagues below League Two, I would have really regretted not doing anything.”

So what does the future for Derby? Clowes explains more with a sense of optimism under head coach Paul Warne.

“We can’t step outside the budget, but this isn’t rocket science,” he says with the club signing four players so far this summer after the transfer embargo was lifted. “The EFL feel very comfortable with us and know we will run this in the correct way. That won’t change.

“There’s so many [other] clubs in trouble. If we’re not careful, we are going to lose one. We were the big warning.

“Did Derby get lucky with me? I don’t know. Maybe they were fortunate.

“We’ve stabilised it and we’re putting some strong foundations in. We didn’t get promotion but it wasn’t the end of the world. It would have been a bonus if we’d gone up.”

‘There’s no reason why we can’t be back in the Premier League’
Derby’s infrastructure is now strong, with more improvements to come. Chief executive Stephen Pearce has proved a pivotal figure in the rebuild, working closely with Mark Thomas [head of recruitment], Ross Burbeary [head of performance] and newly appointed academy manager Matt Hale.

“Derby County is a big football club and if we get this right there’s no reason why we can’t be back in the Premier League in years to come.

“The short-term aim is obviously promotion out of League One. It has gone very quickly and I think we’ve done some good things.

“I know what we’re trying to do behind the scenes and I’m really excited about the future of the club.

“I’m seeing the club progress and feel very privileged that I’m in this position.”

“I think if we hadn’t taken over, in another week it would have gone,” Clowes also told BBC Radio Derby. “That’s how serious it was.”

Asked if he was surprised that Kirchner eventually dropped out, Clowes replied: “We expected it.

“What we did before it was announced was go to [administrators] Quantuma, signed an NDA [non-disclosure agreement], got access to the data and looked at the whole story.

“People ask why I did it. It was purely to save the football club, no more. There is no ego with me. I’m passionate about Derby County – it means everything to me.

“It was a no-brainer that we got involved.”

See more on what he said to the BBC by clicking HERE.

Here’s what fans are saying as Derby owner David Clowes talks the takeover and exciting plans…

@thoughtgenerate: Really scary to think how close we were to falling through the trap doors. So lucky now to have an owner who is safeguarding our future whilst hopefully delivering on the pitch

@hudsonjames1981: He seems a really top guy, long term we are in good hands we just need to exercise some patience and get right behind him and the team ⚽️🐏

@DaleyDCFC: My guy 👊🏻🐏⚽️

@RedDogCam: I think he’ll get Derby back to being a competitive middling Championship club in the coming couple of years. His biggest challenge will be when fans want to take the next step, which is obviously a very tough job in a parachute payment world.

@ashleyallenuk: “There were things in there that left me gobsmacked, and we’ve looked at some basket cases over the years,” – Morris’ business approach was exactly that of a basket case.

@Nik_Ader: Gives some optimism to other similar clubs like my own that there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel however distant it may be. I’ve been critical of Derby fans (having lived there I know a fair few) but I’m really pleased to see that their club is finally on steady footing

@Dominic__96: The guy is a legend.

@HudsonChris88: Tomorrow marks the day that David Clowes rescued #dcfc. So far he has brought stability and pride back to (in my opinion) the greatest football team in the world. We continue to plan a return to the Championship and eventually who knows what else we can achieve. Thank you DC

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