Wayne Rooney has offered his reaction to the news that Derby County have been deducted a total of 21 points from their 2021/22 season total - and he is as committed as ever to lead the club into a much brighter future.
The EFL yesterday confirmed that Derby had received a nine-point sporting sanction with a further three points suspended after admitting to breaches of the League’s Profitability and Sustainability (P&S) rules.
This matter was determined under the terms of an ‘Agreed Decision’ reached between the EFL and the club and was formally ratified by an Independent Disciplinary Commission Chair as per the requirements of EFL Regulations.
The club, via its Administrators, also agreed, following last week’s adjournment, to the dismissal of its appeal against the 12-point deduction imposed as a consequence of the club entering Administration in September 2021, meaning that the sanction continues to apply.
The new nine-point penalty has been applied immediately, resulting in the club having been deducted a total of 21 points from this season’s 2021/22 Championship table.
The suspended three-point deduction will take effect if the club does not comply with the terms of the budget as set out in the ‘Agreed Decision’ for the remainder of season 2021/22.
Derby sit bottom of the league table with minus three points to their name and with the side 18 points away from safety, Rooney is realistic when it comes to the challenge that lies ahead for the Rams in the months ahead.
“It’s not nice when you find out and it gets confirmed,” Rooney told RamsTV on Wednesday afternoon.
“You’re always hoping that it is not the case, but that’s where the club has been left if I’m being honest and it’s disappointing for myself, the players, the staff and the fans.
“It leaves us with an uphill battle to stay in the division, but we will do everything we can to try and do that - although we have to be realistic.
“It is a really difficult challenge for us to do that, but I couldn’t be prouder of the players and the reaction, once again, to more bad news has been fantastic.
“I couldn’t wish for a better group of players in terms with how they have dealt with it all. The attitude and energy in training in the last couple of days has been incredible so I’m delighted with the players’ response to it and we have to keep working like we have been doing.
“We have to keep giving what we can to make sure firstly that the performances are good on the pitch, but also that we continue to play with pride and passion for this club.”
He added: “As disappointing as this is, we will be back better and stronger. I truly believe that, as long as we get the right people in.
“We need the right owners in who will care for the club, will be committed to the club, do the right things and we don’t leave ourselves in the situation we are in now.
“It’s important we get the right people in. If we do that then I truly believe in myself and the staff, and I believe in the players we have.
“I will be planning to make sure we get this club to a stable place first and then a place where we can challenge again.”
Derby formally entered Administration in mid-September and Rooney has praised everyone at the club for the way they’ve handled a challenging period with dignity and grace.
The Rams’ players have given their all on the pitch, tasting just five defeats in 17 matches in the Championship this term in testing circumstances, while the staff around the club have also rallied and displayed a unified stance.
Rooney said: “I can’t speak highly enough of everyone around the place.
“There’s a lot of pressure going onto the pitch during a difficult period on the pitch, but the staff behind the scenes have been fantastic too in keeping the players smiling and making sure everything is there for the players when they need it.
“It’s been a very difficult time for the staff in terms of redundancies and people losing their jobs. It’s been not nice at times and see it unfold but that’s the reality of where we are at. Everyone in the building has handled themselves excellently.”
Derby have 29 league games left to play in the 2021/22 Championship season and Rooney is realistic about the task his side have to retain their second tier status.
Rooney wants to plan for the future as soon as possible but is aware that the club needs to navigate its way out of Administration and find new ownership.
“Anything is possible,” Rooney said. “There is a chance; but we also have to be realistic.
“There is a big possibility that we will go into League One, we know that, and the good thing is that there should be no more and that is it.
“I have to plan now for the future of this club - how we move forward, how we progress, whether that be in the Championship or League One - and in order to do that then it’s vital that we get the new owners in as soon as possible.
“That is the only way in terms of how I can plan moving forward. If that rumbles on and takes longer than we expect then it makes it impossible for me to put things in place.”
Rooney was appointed as Derby’s manager in January of this year on a contract which will run until 2023.
While many externally expect Rooney to consider his future may lie elsewhere, the 36-year-old has reiterated his commitment to the club.
“I have said on numerous occasions that I am committed to this club and committed to getting this club back to where it belongs,” Rooney admitted.
“I really care for this club. I have come in and I’m grateful to Derby County for giving me my first job in football as manager and I want to repay the club and repay the fans for their support.
“I am with the club, and with the players and I will be here until I get told from anyone above me that I’m not! I’ll be here to try and help this club moving forwards.”