Mike Ashley rivals Andrew Appleby group with £50m deposit ready to save Derby

·2-min read
Mike Ashley rivals Andrew Appleby group with £50m deposit ready to save Derby
Mike Ashley rivals Andrew Appleby group with £50m deposit ready to save Derby

Mike Ashley has ramped up his bid to buy Derby County after depositing £50 million to acquire the club and Pride Park Stadium.

Ashley's group are set to inform Derby's administrators, Quantuma, that they are ready to proceed with a deal to rival former chairman Andrew Appleby and save the club from liquidation.

Telegraph Sport has seen correspondence that shows Ashley's lawyers, RPC, are holding £50m in preparation to complete a takeover of the stricken League One club.

The deal is understood to include the club and its assets, plus the stadium which is still owned by former chairman Mel Morris.

Ashley's proposal will not include any charges for the rent of Pride Park, or take any money out of the club, including charges of interest, for the next 10 years.

Ashley is said to be "incredibly serious" about his takeover bid yet fears time is running out to thrash out an agreement with Quantuma, who have been in situ since September, and "just wants a deal to be done".

Mike Ashley is hoping to become new owner of Derby County - PA
Mike Ashley is hoping to become new owner of Derby County - PA

Appleby is also determined to complete his own deal, after submitting a "highly competitive" bid last week. Chairman at the club between 2008 and 2015, the American's group General Sports Worldwide have been in dialogue with Quantuma and remain hopeful of agreeing a deal themselves.

On Tuesday Appleby told American media that his bid was "down to the "final strokes" and talks have progressed in recent days.

The pressure to find a buyer is building with Derby's fixtures for the League One season to be announced on Thursday, with the club having just five senior players under contract.

Short-term funding from a local businessman is understood to be close, to support the club for the next month, but Ashley and Appleby are now raising the stakes in their bids to secure a takeover.

Derby's squad return to pre-season training on Monday June 27 with the future of manager Wayne Rooney still uncertain.

Rooney had frequently admitted he would stay on if Chris Kirchner's bid was successful, but the American businessman withdrew his offer last week.

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