Derby County boss Wayne Rooney hopes former Rams owner Mel Morris loses sleep over the club’s relegation.
Defeat by QPR means the financially troubled Rams will play in the third tier for the first time since 1986, with Rooney looking to stay on.
Relegation comes with Derby still in administration, having been placed there by Morris on 22 September.
“Hopefully he doesn’t have a good night’s sleep tonight and that plays on his mind,” Rooney told BBC Radio Derby.
“I think he needs to have a think about it.
“Where the club’s been left, it was a complete mess. I know Mel Morris is a big Derby fan, so I’m sure he’s sat at home tonight disappointed.”We are disappointed as we’ve done everything we can to try and not let this happen and worked extremely hard.”
When Derby were placed into administration they incurred a 12-point penalty which dropped them from 12th to the foot of the table, on minus two points.
They were still bottom of the division when they were hit with a further nine-point deduction in November after admitting breaches of EFL accounting rules, which saw them slip to minus three points.
Without the 21-point deduction, the Rams would be 17th in the table and almost as close to the play-off places as the relegation spots.
“We’ve earned enough points to stay in this division next season and developed some really good, young, local players,” Rooney said.”In that sense, the future of the club looks bright. But we need to get over what’s happened.
“It’s a sad day. I’m sad, disappointed, upset, frustrated, but proud.”The effort the lads and the staff have put in to try and galvanise the squad and the club, it’s been a lot of work.”
Rooney ‘excited’ by League One challenge
Rooney – England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer – ended his illustrious playing career in the Championship with Derby last season when he took on the Rams job on a permanent basis.
He steered them to safety on the final day last term, but was unable to repeat the feat in his first full season in charge.
During Derby’s high-profile battle for Championship survival plus their efforts to remain in business, the former striker has impressed with his ability to produce results with a team in crisis and at a time of concern for the club’s future.
He turned down an approach to take over as Everton boss in January and has been linked to the vacant job at Burnley, although prospective new Derby owner Chris Kirchner has previously said Rooney will stay at the club.
Rooney, who has more than a year remaining on his contract at Derby, said he is “excited” about the challenge next season.
“I know what players I want to bring in in League One and I need to be able to get that moving quickly to make sure we have the best chance of coming straight back up,” he said.
“I’m excited to get my teeth into it and bring in players I want, try to develop them and try to be a successful team.
“I want to rebuild this club. But the takeover has to happen.”
American Kirchner, who was selected as the club’s preferred bidder earlier this month, tweeted after the club’s relegation to say a business plan for the club will be handed to the EFL for approval on Friday.
“We anticipate a quick turnaround from them for approval as they have been very supportive in helping us to be in a position to close the deal,” Kirchner said.
He has also stated an intention to satisfy EFL rules when paying the club’s creditors to avoid a 15-point penalty next season.
Questions about Derby’s Pride Park home remain unanswered, with the ground still owned by Morris.
Kirchner also said recruitment will be a focus, with Derby having only five players under contract for next season and Rooney saying 40 will need to be signed in all.
‘Better days are coming’
Derby captain Tom Lawrence is among the collection of players out of contract in the summer.
He failed to see out the crucial game against QPR, after being sent off for a second yellow card in a dramatic finale that saw Luke Amos score QPR’s late winner.
An injury-time equaliser for Reading in their 4-4 draw with Swansea ultimately consigned the Rams to the drop with three games to go.
“We wanted to take it to the last game if we could, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Lawrence said.”I’m super-proud of everybody involved with Derby County, the way everyone’s united together.”I’m struggling for words for what to say but I’m super-proud of everyone and the fans.”We’ve been up against it all season, setback after setback, and the way everyone’s united as one has been special.”I’m gutted for the fans, but better days are coming.”