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Derby County: Chris Kirchner withdraws bid to buy League One club

It is understood administrators Quantuma have seen proof of funds from at least five groups who still want to buy the club; EFL says it must be involved in sale talks; "Back-up" funding could be made available if the takeover process suffers prolonged delays

The 5pm deadline for Chris Kirchner to complete his deal to buy Derby has passed without progression
Image: Chris Kirchner has withdrawn his bid for Derby

Derby's administrators have confirmed American businessman Chris Kirchner has pulled out of his deal to buy the club.

Concerns over the club's future have mounted since Kirchner, who exchanged contracts committing to buy the club on May 16, failed to transfer the necessary cash before Friday's deadline.

The EFL had written to administrators, Quantuma, expressing real concern that Derby will not be able to field a team next season, "risking the integrity of the competition".

Sky Sports News understands that Kirchner's withdrawal has come as a shock to the EFL and Quantuma - both of whom had been given reassurances as recently as Sunday that Kirchner was determined to complete the sale.

He had again shown proof of funds to both parties.

An update from the joint administrators of Derby County was issued on Monday evening, confirming the businessman's withdrawal.

Wayne Rooney says he wants to rebuild Derby after they were relegated to the third tier
Image: Back-up funding could be made available for Derby, who are managed by Wayne Rooney

A spokesperson said: "We are aware that some will be concerned by this news, however, the joint administrators wish to reassure the club's staff, players and supporters that they are continuing to actively engage with a growing number of interested parties, each of whom have a real willingness to complete a deal as soon as possible.

"The joint administrators would remind all stakeholders of the process in place for those parties who wish to acquire The Club. The joint administrators are running a competitive bidding process. Bids should be best and final and not contain any referential element. Clearly, any bid is subject to interested parties entering into an NDA, accessing the data room, and undertaking their own due diligence. Of the parties we are engaging with, some are more progressed in this process than others."

An EFL spokesperson also said they remain committed to "working proactively alongside the Administrators of the Club... as they continue to engage with a number of interested parties so that the objective of concluding a sale is achieved at the earliest possible opportunity."

Ashley among groups ready to prevent Derby liquidation

Image: Mike Ashley, former owner of Newcastle, has the cash to buy Derby

Mike Ashley is among a number of businesspeople who could step in to prevent Derby County from being liquidated.

League organisers have taken what is thought to be an unprecedented step, informing the joint administrators that they must be directly involved in negotiations with potential bidders for Derby.

It is understood Quantuma have seen proof of funds from at least five groups who still want to buy the club, including former Newcastle owner Ashley and former Derby chairman Andy Appleby.

Sky Sports News has been told that while the priority is to complete a club takeover long before next season's fixtures are released, there is the potential for "back-up" funding to be made available for Derby to assemble a squad and fulfil their fixtures should that process be delayed.

What does Kirchner's withdrawal mean for Derby?

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After Chris Kirchner withdrew his bid to acquire Derby County, Rob Dorsett says there are still four more parties interested in buying the club.

Sky Sports Senior Reporter Rob Dorsett said:

"We've used that awful word liquidation on a number of occasions throughout this process, since Derby slipped into administration in September.

"You have to say that has never felt closer than it does now. What I will say is I've had assurances from a lot of significant officials who have told me that even though this bid has failed, there are a number of other interested parties.

"Separate from those, there are a lot of well-heeled individuals, successful businesspeople, who will not allow Derby to fail. They will step in short-term if needs be.

"The preferred bidder, the main man, the man who has exchanged contracts committing to buy Derby County has now withdrawn his offer to do so.

"Yes, it's a significant blow, but the administrators aren't panicking. Kirchner was the man they chose to get this deal done but he hasn't been able to do so. He's missed a number of deadlines.

"He's now finally out of the running. Other interested parties will move forward now and be given much greater attention by Derby's administrators.

"One we know about is Mike Ashley - his is probably the lowest bid, but one of the most secure and credible."

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