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Derby County: Chris Kirchner withdraws bid to buy League One side

Chris Kirchner (centre) watches Derby County in action
Chris Kirchner (centre) has been to Pride Park a number of times to watch Derby County play

Chris Kirchner has withdrawn his bid to buy League One side Derby County.

BBC Sport has been told Kirchner took the decision due to the difficulty he has had transferring funds to the UK.

Derby’s administrators had given the American a deadline of 10 June to complete the deal and are now talking to other parties to find a buyer.

The Rams, managed by Wayne Rooney, were deducted 21 points during last season, finishing 23rd in the Championship to drop down to League One for 2022-23.

Derby have been in administration since September 2021 and Kirchner was named as preferred bidder on 6 April and granted exclusivity over the process.

Contracts were exchanged last month, but delays were encountered over completing the takeover, which was initially due to be done by 31 May. He then failed to meet Friday’s deadline. set by administrators Quantuma.

Despite providing proof and sufficiency of funding to the English Football League and passing the governing body’s owners & directors’ test, Texas-based Kirchner was not able to conclude a deal with administrators.

A spokesperson on behalf of the joint administrators of the club said: “We’re aware some will be concerned by this news, however, the joint administrators wish to reassure the club’s staff, players and supporters they are continuing to actively engage with a growing number of interested parties, each of whom have a real willingness to complete a deal as soon as possible.”

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is among those interested in buying Derby, who were English top-flight champions twice in the 1970s, European Cup semi-finalists in 1972-73 and last played in the Premier League in the 2007-08 season.

On Sunday, the EFL said it would become closely involved in the sale of the Rams in order to secure their future in the league.

Conditions suspending Derby’s expulsion from the league, imposed when they went into administration, have been changed.

The EFL now wants to be informed of all discussions between Quantuma and potential bidders.

In a statement, the league said it was “increasingly concerned” the delays presented “a real risk to the integrity of next season’s competition”, with the EFL fixtures being released in less than a fortnight.

Confirming it had received notification of Kirchner’s withdrawal, the EFL said on Monday evening it “reiterates its commitment, made over the weekend, to work proactively alongside the administrators of the club as they continue to engage with a number of interested parties, so that the objective of concluding a sale is achieved at the earliest possible opportunity.”

‘It could be a blessing in disguise’ – analysis

Ed Dawes, BBC Radio Derby

“It’s another blow for the Rams’ fans, who really have had such a tough time since September and social media is reflecting that.

“They’re really cross that this has wasted so much time, considering the start of the season is just around the corner (30 July).

“But it could be a blessing in disguise because this process has been going on for a such a long time.

“On 17 May Chris Kirchner declared he would be the next owner of Derby County. Since then he’s failed to provide the funds to close that deal. Deadlines have come and gone with excuses.

“As far as I understand, there are six to eight other bidders who are happy to put forward bids for the football club. I’m not worried that it’ll be a problem to appear in League One next season.

“Derby will have a team to put out, a deal will be done. It’s just that unfortunately, because of the [exclusivity] contract that was entered to allow Chris Kirchner to have first dibs, it’s wasted so much time and other people have been circling, waiting to close a deal if it does collapse – and it now has.”

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