Chief Executive Officer Stephen Pearce, on behalf of Derby County’s Board of Directors, wishes to issue a response to the Open Letter, dated 17th May 2021, which was signed by various supporters’ groups.
First and foremost, we totally understand and respect our supporters’ concerns and frustrations at this present time.
The last 14 months, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, has been an unprecedented and incredibly difficult period for everyone.
Since COVID-19 impacted the United Kingdom early last year, it would be fair to state that Derby County has lost around £20 million in revenues.
The impact of losing the vast majority of our revenues when the club was already loss-making has been significant and, therefore, we have been presented with several challenges to overcome.
Of course, the lack of revenue affects many aspects including our ability to recruit players. Furthermore, with so many Championship clubs benefiting from Premier League parachute payments, and retaining Premier League squads, it has made it difficult to be as competitive as we would have wished to be. Injuries to key players also impacted us during the 2020/21 season.
We are not the only football club in the country to report such losses, given the knock-on effect of being unable to welcome supporters into stadiums for such a lengthy period.
We are also fully aware that at this moment in time Derby County’s name is regularly appearing in the national media and that some articles are creating or heightening supporters’ concerns.
Whilst this is a financially challenging time, we can assure supporters, and everyone connected with the club, that the Board and management are working tirelessly to address the situation and ensure we are in the best possible place in both the short and long-term.
It is widely understood that our current owner has been in discussions with numerous parties about a transfer of ownership of both the club and Pride Park Stadium. After two abortive processes which have been harrowing, we can confirm that we have a number of other credible parties who are in active negotiations to help take the club forward.
Ticket refunds for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons have been processed over the course of the last few months and any supporters that still have refund queries are urged to contact our Ticket Office (ticket.offic[email protected]) with their key details, including their Fan ID number.
The 2021/22 season is fast approaching, and we will communicate ticketing information at a suitable point once more clarity is provided by the UK Government and EFL in relation to the return of fans for next season.
Plans are in place for several eventualities and once a definitive answer is provided on the return of fans, we are ready to move forward and communicate our plans immediately.
The recent test events have only reinforced how important supporters are to clubs and on-pitch performances. We have dearly missed our supporters at Pride Park Stadium since March 2020 and are eager to welcome supporters back as soon as it is considered safe to do so.
In respect to the agreement with No Limits Sports Limited, this transaction is no longer under consideration.
An announcement was made in April that a deal was agreed between Mel Morris and No Limits Sports Limited, but subsequent developments mean the deal is no longer an option.
However, Mel Morris is in touch with a number of credible parties in respect to purchasing both the football club and Pride Park Stadium.
Due to confidentiality reasons, we cannot expand on this information at this time in terms of the identities and complexities of the discussions, but should we be in a position to share more details then we will do so.
Supporter Representation On The Board
Supporter representation on the Board is something that has been discussed previously over many years. Whilst a definitive answer cannot be given at this precise moment, especially with a potential change of ownership in the near future, this is an option that justifies discussion.
Supporter Engagement Meeting
We hope that this response addresses the principal questions supporters may have at this time.
But we would also consider that setting up a virtual meeting for supporters’ groups to directly ask questions and allow supporters to lobby their supporters’ groups for answers. We will engage the supporters’ groups to propose a mutually convenient date.
In recent years we have embarked on a multi-year programme to supplement our recruitment through in-house developed players.
This is not something that can be achieved overnight and requires patience in order to leverage the playing assets that we are developing. To lose sight of this objective at what is undoubtedly a transitional period would risk wasting the £20 million investment made in developing our Category 1 Academy, its playing assets, and the talented coaches we have recruited and retained.
Wayne Rooney has clearly outlined his plans to make improvements to the first team squad during the summer transfer window, and we will work closely with him to find the right balance of quality, experience, energy, determination, and youth development to again be competitive.
It goes without saying, with various players out of contract and loan agreements coming to an end, that there is significant work to be done to prepare the squad for the start of the 2021/22 season.
In addition, we are finalising our pre-season arrangements and expect to be able to announce our games programme in early June.
Although not referenced in the Open Letter, the Board also wishes to reiterate the club’s stance in respect of the ongoing situation relating to the EFL charges brought against Derby County (https://www.dcfc.co.uk/news/2021/05/club-statement...).
As was stated last week, the club and the EFL have agreed that the matter shall now be remitted back to the original Disciplinary Commission to determine any appropriate sanctions following the League Arbitration Panel’s decision. The outcome of that process will be communicated once it has been established and the parties are able to announce it publicly.
Finally, we would like to re-iterate our desire to keep our supporters and stakeholders as informed as possible. This may not always be possible due to confidentiality obligations which we take very seriously. We shall be sure to communicate any major events that affect the club as soon as we are able to do so.
Thank you all again for your support which is critical to the club’s progress through what is hopefully the tail end of this dreadful pandemic that has taken the lives of so many, including some of our own supporters. We are hopeful of seeing you back at Pride Park Stadium very soon.