EXCLUSIVE: Derby’s prospective new owners enquired about buying Premier League sides West Ham and Bournemouth last season… as the £60m takeover of the Championship club continues to stall
- Derby’s prospective new owners tried to buy West Ham and Bournemouth
- The sale to Sheik Khaled bin Zayed al Nehayan has been ratified by the EFL
- But there are doubts the takeover will go through following a lack of content
- Current owner Mel Morris insisted the sale of the club had not yet gone through
Derby County’s prospective new owners enquired about buying Premier League clubs West Ham and Bournemouth last season, Sportsmail can disclose.
There is now significant doubt over the protracted takeover at Pride Park by a branch of the Abu Dhabi royal family following a three-month delay in completing the £60 million transaction, and news that the group have now failed to complete deals for at least three other clubs will heighten those apprehensions.
The EFL ratified the proposed purchase of Derby by Sheik Khaled bin Zayed al Nehayan, the cousin of Manchester City’s billionaire owner Sheik Mansour, in November.
Derby County’s prospective new owner Sheik Khaled bin Zayed al Nehayan enquired about buying Premier League clubs West Ham and Bournemouth last season
There has been a three-month delay in the takeover of the Rams by the Bin Zayed Group
A transfer of the funds and a final exchange of contracts, which have been drawn up, is all that is left to complete — but sources claim there has been a worrying lack of communication from the United Arab Emirates.
Although ensuring proof of funds to the EFL as part of the due diligence process wasn’t an issue given the family’s vast wealth, sources have indicated that the hold-up could be due to difficulties in actually accessing the necessary money required to complete the takeover.
The delay has led to fears the deal is set to fall through and led to scepticism over the potential buyers, and current owner and chairman Mel Morris insisted the takeover was ‘not finished’ last weekend.
Derby owner and chairman Mel Morris insisted the takeover was not finished last week
The Bin Zayed Group have long been in the market to take control at an English football club.
Their failed attempts to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley last year have been well-documented.
But they also showed significant interest in West Ham and Bournemouth last season.
It is understood an initial enquiry over the purchase of West Ham was made before the Covid-19 pandemic but the group dropped their interest following early discussions.
Their attempts to buy Bournemouth, who were relegated from the top flight last season, are understood to have reached more of an advanced stage but again nothing came to fruition.
The previous attempts to buy a club in England will merely add to concerns that Derby are being led up the garden path by the Bin Zayed Group.
The issue has overshadowed the opening weeks of Wayne Rooney’s reign as head coach. Last week the Derby boss suggested that the sooner there was clarity over the long-running saga the better for his preparations for next season.
The issue has overshadowed the opening weeks of Wayne Rooney’s reign as head coach
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