Mike Ashley is ‘interested’ in buying Derby County after completing the £305m sale of Newcastle United, according to reports.
The Rams are currently in administration after former owner Mel Morris cut his ties with the club, and are looking for a buyer who will be prepared to take on their considerable debts.
While the market price of the club is small, with relegation to League One almost certain, any new owner will have to stump up more than £50m to satisfy the club’s creditors, and that’s before they even think about rebuilding the squad.
Ashley, though, is eager to stay involved in football now that his 14-year reign on Tyneside has come to an end, and the Mirror claim that Derby are a target of his.
Pride Park is situated just 30 miles from Ashley’s Sports Direct headquarters, a company the retail magnate is keen to provide with a public platform.
Derby are rock bottom of the Championship having been hit with a 12-point deduction but retain a large, passionate fanbase who could propel a recovery, as well as an English footballing legend in Wayne Rooney as manager.
Rooney has vowed to stick with the club during this period of uncertainty.
“I will fight for the club,” he told reporters shortly after administration was announced. “I wouldn’t leave the staff in the lurch. They need someone to lead them. I am committed to this football club.
“I grew up on a council estate in Liverpool and I know how tough life can be… I care about the players and the staff. What kind of person would I be if I walked away and put my feet up or went on holiday for a few weeks?”
Ashley endured a tumultuous reign at St James’ Park, where fans were highly critical of his level of investment in the squad.
Following his 2007 takeover, the club were relegated from the Premier League on two separate occasions – in 2009 and 2016 – and finished in the top half just three times.
The Toon Army are optimistic that the new Saudi regime will restore the club to its former glories.