Derby have docked 21 championship points since taking office
Derby administrators could seek a legal ruling on their compensation battles with Middlesbrough and Wycombe if the Football League does not back down from its current position that the cases are viewed as football debts, according to ` Sport.
Boro and Wycombe are pursuing Derby over what they say has been a loss of income over breaches of the ailing Championship club’s financial rules.
It’s not felt within Pride Park that there’s much of a chance the claims will be successful.
However, the mere fact that they exist prevents administrators from naming a preferred bidder for the club, which they said on Christmas Eve was “imminent”.
It’s understood none of the three current prospects are ready to commit to buying the club, knowing they could face millions of dollars in liability.
Administrators had hoped to ‘compress’ liability but unless the EFL changes the status of the debt this cannot happen as all football-related amounts must be paid in full.
Administrators argue that the claims fall outside the normal “football-related” agreements on issues such as transfer fees and ticket sales.
However, the EFL say they are doing so knowing that Middlesbrough’s legal win over Liverpool in 2002 via the transfer of Germany international Christian Ziege was seen as football guilt.
Administrators believe the EFL’s current rules are outdated as they do not take into account the status of preferred creditors.
With a lengthy legal battle that could last months and see Derby having to sell players or borrow more money to keep playing, administrators are likely to seek a legal decision if they don’t get clarification within the next week.
The only other option is to reach a financial agreement with Middlesbrough and Wycombe, although it’s not clear where the funds for that would come from.
The idea of using funds intended to pay part of a £28million liability to HMRC was dismissed as a non-starter.
The EFL released an 11-point Question and Answer with Chief Executive Trevor Birch on the situation at Derby on Monday.
The EFL asked Derby administrators last week how they intend to proceed with the trade until the end of the season amid mounting fears for the club’s future.
Birch said “potential funding options” have been put forward by administrators but they could not provide the “necessary assurances” that funding was guaranteed for the club to conclude the season.
He added that the EFL had extended the deadline for making the funded plans available to February 1.
Birch said the proceedings with Middlesbrough were confidential and that the EFL had not received details of Wycombe Wanderers’ claims.
“We are aware that Derby County believes the claims are false, but despite this, the current bidders appear unwilling to take the risk of defending them,” he said.
He added that the EFL was “interested in resolving the current impasse” and was now looking at submissions from Derby administrators, Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers, with a view to finding a solution.
Derby withdrew a contract offer for veteran defender Phil Jagielka on Friday. Jagielka has since joined Stoke. Scotland midfielder Graem Shinnie came to League One Wigan on Sunday.
The added uncertainty comes at a time when the club is excelling on the pitch.
Win against Sheffield United on Saturday saw Wayne Rooney’s side move from bottom of the table and eight points from safety despite deducting 21 points this season.