Exclusive: Wayne Rooney agency defends paying Derby County wages

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Exclusive: Wayne Rooney agency defends paying Derby County wages - ACTION IMAGES
Exclusive: Wayne Rooney agency defends paying Derby County wages - ACTION IMAGES

The agency representing Wayne Rooney has defended its decision to secretly pay staff and player wages at Derby County as part of a bridging loan for American businessman Chris Kirchner.

Triple S Group also clarified that it had voluntarily notified the Football Association about the payment as bosses expressed confidence that an investigation will be resolved "swiftly". The powerful agency, which also represents Harry Maguire, released a statement after Telegraph Sport revealed how a £1.6million cheque had been handed over to cover salaries in May in an attempt to help Kirchner get his failed takeover on track.

“The Triple S Group is aware of The FA’s routine investigation – indeed, it was the Triple S Group that voluntarily disclosed the information to The FA which has resulted in further inquiry," a spokesperson said.

“We were surprised that details of this investigation have appeared in the press while the investigative process is ongoing. Regardless, the Triple S Group is confident in the legal advice it sought originally and will continue to cooperate fully with The FA to resolve this matter swiftly. No further comment will be made at this time.”

Insiders clarified it was Triple S rather than Paul Stretford, an influential agent who is a minority shareholder in the agency, which had made the payment to administrators when Kirchner's deal ran into trouble.

Despite volunteering the information to the FA, Triple S could still face sanctions if the governing body finds it has breached its agent regulations. Punishments can include fines or licence suspensions. With agency client Rooney still manager at the time, there are potential conflict of interest issues to unravel.

Triple S and Stretford had made no secret of their ties with Kirchner as a prospective deal took place, but insiders said they were not directly involved in takeover terms when the American was named as the chosen buyer.

Quantuma, the administrators, are understood to have received the money directly from the agency this month to cover last month's salaries. Triple S had legal advice on accepting the American's request for a bridging loan to his firm 9CK Sports Holdings while he complained of having difficulties with the "international banking system" during the Jubilee bank holiday.

There is no suggestion that Triple S were likely to gain from providing the loan. Instead, the agency is believed to have hoped its intervention would buy Kirchner time and ensure Derby avoided any further points deductions for unpaid wages.

Kirchner is understood to have provided guarantees that he will repay the money. Triple S has yet to receive it, but will pursue him for repayment. Kirchner had previously been willing to offer unsecured creditors 35p to the pound over the next three years to avoid a points deduction next season. He was named as the preferred bidder on April 6, to the immense frustration of rival bidders Mike Ashley and former chairman Andrew Appleby.

England's Ian Poulter with American businessman Chris Kirchner - Reuters
England's Ian Poulter with American businessman Chris Kirchner - Reuters

Derby County had been in administration for eight months by May 31, when Kirchner's takeover was expected to officially close. However, in the ensuing weeks, Kirchner refused to answer questions, most notably while playing golf at the Saudi rebel circuit pro-am alongside professionals Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter. He eventually withdrew  from the deal on June 13.

Rooney then requested to be relieved of his duties  as manager during a meeting with administrators Quantuma on Friday. Derby were relegated from the Championship but Rooney’s work against a backdrop of financial chaos was impressive, with the 36-year-old also rejecting the chance to speak with his first club, Everton, over the role as manager.

He had admitted towards the end of last season that he would stay on if Kirchner’s takeover bid was successful, but when he withdrew there were fears he would leave.

On Sunday, local property developer David Clowes had his bid to buy the club accepted and he now hopes to complete the purchase by Wednesday. Staff wages had previously gone unpaid twice during Mel Morris' troubled stewardship.

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