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Derby County reveal four friendlies as some contracted players seek legal advice

Derby County finally are able, it seems, to reveal four pre-season friendlies as some contracted players seek legal advice.

At least two of the Rams’ seven senior contracted players are taking legal advice over an employment law that could allow them to tear up their contracts when the sale of the Championship outfit goes through, according to BBC Sport.

The club’s administrators are hoping to find new buyers following Chris Kirchner’s withdrawal from the process last week, former owner Mel Morris retains ownership of Pride Park, Derby’s most significant asset is their playing squad.

However, with manager Wayne Rooney unable to offer contracts to players without EFL approval whilst the club remains in administration, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing many senior players around for the start of pre-season training on Monday.

Just five first-team players – Krystian Bielik, Max Bird, Jason Knight, Louie Sibley and Jack Stretton – have contracts for the 2022/23 season, while two other players have options on existing deals with the club, while even those that are present might be moving on.

If Derby avoid liquidation and are able to play the 2022/23 season, it will be in the form of a new company, as that will be the only way of avoiding paying full liability to non-football creditors.

Under employment law, when the business is sold to the new company the position will be governed by legislation known as the ‘Transfer of Undertakings’ (Protection of Employment) (TUPE).

BBC Sport’s reports goes on to add that ordinarily under TUPE, employees at the date of the transfer automatically transfer to the new company and have the right to be given details about the transfer ahead of time and a right to object to becoming an employee, which would lead to their contract being terminated at the point where the sale goes ahead.

Whilst there remains confidence amongst the administrators that the East Midlands outfit will not be liquidated, which in itself would bring the footballer’s contracts to an end, it is thought that some of the remaining players are not happy at the position they have found themselves in and are taking legal advice over their rights.

This comes with the EFL Fixture Release Day on Thursday, with Derby’s League One campaign due to begin on the 30th of July.

Meanwhile, Derby County have finally announced that they will host two friendlies and visit two League Two clubs as part of their pre-season games programme ahead of the 2022/23 League One season. Giving fans some sort of hope.

The club said: “Derby County will stage two pre-season friendly matches at Pride Park Stadium in the lead-up to the start of the 2022/23 Sky Bet League One season.

“Derby’s players will return for pre-season training next week and work has been ongoing to finalise their games schedule, which includes a pair of matches against top-level opposition.

“Wayne Rooney’s side will face German top-flight side Hertha Berlin at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday 16th July (4pm kick-off) in their first friendly on home turf.

“The Bundesliga side, who have spent all but one season in the German top-flight since 1997, will be in England on a training camp as part of their own pre-season programme after they avoided relegation in the play-offs against Hamburger SV in May.

“Managed by the recently-appointed Sandro Schwarz, they finished last season in 16th spot and in the bottom three on goal difference.

“Their squad contains the likes of Belgium defender and ex-Celtic player Dedryck Boyata and Stevan Jovetic, previously of Manchester City and a Montenegro international, while ex-England youth international Jonjoe Kenny has linked up with the Old Lady this summer after leaving Everton.

“Derby will then welcome Premier League side Leicester City to town on Saturday 23rd July (1pm kick-off) in what is set to be their final pre-season fixture ahead of the new campaign.

“Leicester, managed by former Liverpool and Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, concluded the 2021/22 season with three wins and a draw to finish in eighth place in the top division and were also semi-finalists in the UEFA Conference League.

“The Foxes’ squad contains many familiar names such as the likes of James Maddison, Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes, Kasper Schmeichel and Youri Tielemans.

“Derby last welcomed their East Midlands neighbours to Pride Park in the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup in the 2016/17 season, with the tie finishing in a 2-2 draw.”

Away friendlies were announced too: “Derby’s players will return for pre-season training next week and work has been ongoing to finalise their schedule, which includes two away friendlies against EFL opposition.

“First up for the Rams in pre-season will be a trip to the Utilita Energy Stadium to face Bradford City on Saturday 9th July (3pm kick-off).

“Bradford finished last season 14th in League Two, concluding the campaign with three successive wins, and are managed by former Wales international player and manager Mark Hughes.

“Derby and Bradford last met in a competitive game in the 2003/04 Championship season. Derby won both league meetings, including a 2-1 success on the road with Lee Morris scoring both goals.

“Next up on the road will be a trip to Lamex Stadium to take on Stevenage on Tuesday 19th July (7:30pm kick-off).

“Stevenage are managed by the experienced Steve Evans, who took charge in March of this year and helped them avoid relegation to the National League by finishing in 21st place.

“The Hertfordshire outfit, who were only founded in 1976, have been in the EFL since 2010 and Derby and Stevenage have never met in a competitive fixture.

“Ticket information, including pricing and on-sale dates, and RamsTV streaming information will be communicated to supporters in due course and at the earliest opportunity.”

Latest on any kind of takeover? Well the Rams officially entered administration back in September last year, with work going on over a takeover at Pride Park for the last nine months and saw American Chris Kirchner named as preferred bidder back in April before withdrawing after the money failed to go through in time of the deadline.

As many as eight parties hare said to be linked with an interest, including ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley while Andy Appleby and former Wolves owner Steve Morgan are also said to be battling it out.

Appleby has said that his bid for the club is in its ‘final strokes’ as he looks to save the club from liquidation after conducting an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business and while he didn’t give too many details away, but instead gave a brief update on a potential takeover of Derby.

“It’s down to the final strokes,” he said in a six-word update. The publication also said that Appleby was optimistic about his bid and expects to learn the outcome this week as well as talks between the club’s administrators and Appleby’s consortium ongoing.

And Mike Ashley is of course ‘all in’, reportedly remaining determined to save Derby as he eyes a takeover of the club. He has however also been linked with a takeover of Championship club Sheffield United, but it’s American businessman Henry Mauriss is currently trying to seal a deal for the Blades though has yet to be given the green light by the EFL. Mauriss is still trying to get the deal across the line and it had been claimed that Ashley was keeping an eye on the situation, but according to the Sheffield Star, Ashley has shown no indication that he is interested.

“The Sports Direct chief has inevitably been linked with United since news of Mauriss’ approach to Prince Abdullah broke,” they reported. “But Ashley has not made any noises about trying to hijack the process, with folk behind the scenes at United believing his manoeuvrings around Derby County following the collapse of Chris Kirchner’s buy-out suggest, as one put it, “all in” on trying to purchase the stricken League One outfit.”

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Fair Game chief executive Niall Couper has called on the UK’s main political parties to firmly commit to overhauling football with an independent regulator in light of the ongoing situation at Derby County.

“Fans should be looking forward to the start of a new season,” Couper said (as per Derby Telegraph), “not living in fear over whether their club will still be in existence at the end of it. Poor governance at clubs allows owners like those at Derby County to hide their risk-taking behaviours putting centuries of tradition and community at risk.

“We need a firm commitment from our main political parties to deliver a real overhaul of football and quickly. We cannot allow any proposals to be kicked into the long grass. Football needs an independent regulator now.”

Fans reacted as Derby County reveal four friendlies as some contracted players seek legal advice…

@Macaule69783440: With what squad??

@DCFC4LIFE_: I’ll get my kit ready 🙄

@LPOgden23: We’ve got a cracking 6 a side team, if Rooney and the lads want a game

@DcfcPads: Might help if we have a squad, otherwise we won’t be

@djedmandsbcafc: hughes and rooney on the touchlines 👀

@wragg_nick: What with 6 players. Shit hot.

@chris_ostick: We haven’t got a full squad, an know takeover news @dcfcofficial what’s going on???

@mastermez101: Can we afford the fuel to get all the way to Stevenage?

@AdKempy: A glimmer…? #dcfc #dcfcfans

@SHD1903: If you’re struggling for players we’ll give you Oscar Threlkeld for free

@jraistrick56: Know it’s unlikely to happen but should give #dcfc the profits of the ticket sales for the friendly and try get VP decently filled, we of all clubs know what it’s like to be in administration from overspending #BCAFC

@thoroughbredof: im sure if the players dont want to be here wayne will let them go

@mitchtheram7: Get rid of them then if they don’t want to be here !

@KevPopsiders: Would rather sell them, we need the money.

@cranagemark: So that’s lb and nb then

@KANEDAVID77: Derby county the gift that just keeps on giving. Honest I’ve had enough now. Just gonna give up football completely

@jamesDCFCatkin: Bielik needs to move after what the Polish Coach said, can’t blame him really. Sell them, Buchanan isn’t that good anyway.

@RyanSharp93: Let them go, no room for that mentality here

@Bretheren: We can’t afford to let them go under these circumstances if they go we need fees. This is now becoming an absolute joke personally I have had enough there is only so much fans can take. This is the worst situation in over 50 years of watching the club

@brazzer1970: 💯 don’t blame them…No progress being made and the lads want to get on with their lives

@chrismarks63: Please confirm whether it is the players themselves or their agents (who will not receive a fee if the players stay) who are initiating this – when you find it’s the agents please issue a clarification

@baggo89: If they want to leave fine, but do it via transfer request… theyve seen the mess the clubs been in theyve seen players leave for peanuts and what it did to our chances of staying up. I dont blame them for wantin to leave but to try and get out of a contract they signed stinks

@ianreynolds1976: Can’t blame any of them to be honest, absolute shit storm of a club caused by mismanagement at the highest level and now we have the definition of incompetence running the club…. Really is looking bleak as each day passes by without any significant news. #SaveDerbyCounty

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