Derby County are set to appoint their administrators in the next 48 hours as outgoing owner Mel Morris apologised to staff and supporters over the club’s plight.
Morris has admitted that Derby’s situation is “tragic” as they prepare for a 12-point deduction which will thrust manager Wayne Rooney into a Championship relegation battle.
Derby are awaiting confirmation from major creditor MSD, the holding company linked to American billionaire Michael Dell, over which administrators will make the key decisions on the club’s future.
The long-running dispute with the Football League is also yet to be resolved, with a further nine-point sanction for breaching financial rules likely to be applied.
It is understood a number of parties are waiting to launch takeover bids, with Derby privately suggesting they could have been waiting for administration to be confirmed before making their moves.
Morris, who will address staff over the next two days to detail the club’s financial problems, on Sunday revealed his disappointment at the situation.
“It’s tragic. I can only apologise to the people there,” he told BBC Radio Derby. “Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I sorry to the fans? Yes. I desperately wanted to get this club right up there if we could do that.
“I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears – and a heck of a lot of money – into this club and it’s had some really good times under my tenure, but ultimately I’ve failed.”
Rooney, speaking after Derby’s 2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday, revealed that he had not spoken to Morris for weeks, but reiterated his commitment to the club as manager.
Any takeover is likely to take at least two months, with a 28-day process which gives supporters an opportunity to make their own bid to buy the club.
And Rooney has warned that any sale must be completed before the January transfer window or he risks losing his young players.
Derby have a number of highly- regarded academy products, including Max Bird, Louie Sibley and Lee Buchanan, and will be vulnerable to offers as they will be recognised as sellable assets by administrators.
“We’ve got a few months now to try and get some investors in,” Rooney said. “If we get to January, the administrators can sell my players and there’s nothing I can do about it. That will be very difficult, a hard one to take.
“Hopefully we can get new investors in as soon as possible and try and get some stability at this club.
“This club is a big one and it will bounce back. We’ve seen teams go into administration before and bounce back. Look at Wigan now, they are at the top of League One.
“We have to be strong, we have to be resilient, and stick together.”