Soccer-Derby set for administration amid financial uncertainty

FILE PHOTO-Soccer Football - Championship Play-Off Semi Final First Leg - Derby County v Leeds United - Pride Park, Derby, Britain - May 11, 2019 A fan holds a flag during the match Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

(Reuters) -Derby County have filed a notice to appoint administrators amid continued financial problems at the club, the English second-tier Championship side said on Friday.

The club, managed by former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, said "a number of developments" led to the decision, including a failure to identify a buyer and the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue streams.

Derby owner Mel Morris, who has been at the club since 2015, has seen two potential deals fall through in recent months in his search for a takeover.

"Because the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the revenues and profits of all of its businesses, the club has been unable to service its day-to-day financial obligations," Derby said in a statement

"The directors had no choice but to make the tough decision to take this action and protect the club.

"Unlike other sectors, football has been able to only marginally reduce its cost base with the majority of outgoings being associated with playing staff who obviously could not be furloughed.

"It is widely known that we had significantly reduced our wage bill, but the major benefit of these reductions were not going to take effect until this season."

The English Football League (EFL) confirmed Derby would be docked 12 points, the standard penalty for a club entering administration, but disputed claims that COVID-19 was responsible for their financial decline.

"The EFL entered into a debt raise to provide its clubs with access to funds that would support them in dealing with the impact of COVID and, as with any loan, this was subject to a timeframe and eligibility criteria which Derby County was unable to meet," the EFL said in a statement

In July, Derby were fined 100,000 pounds ($137,310) by an independent disciplinary commission for accounting irregularities and their accounts for 2016, 2017 and 2018 are currently being re-examined.

Derby could face further points deductions as a result after initially being cleared of financial misconduct. They avoided demotion to the third-tier League One last season after deciding not to appeal the decision.

The club have been under a transfer embargo since before the summer transfer window opened after failing to pay player wages in previous months, which meant they were only allowed to sign free agents with strict limits on wages.

Derby are 16th in the Championship with seven points from as many games, having won only once this season. They will host Stoke City on Saturday.

($1 = 0.7283 pounds)

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in BengaluruEditing by Christian Radnedge)

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