Derby County, led by Wayne Rooney of England and Manchester United, were relegated to the third tier of English football on Monday to end a miserable season in which the club also lost 21 points for breaches of financial rules.
A 1-0 loss to Queens Park Rangers left Derby 10 points off the table with three games remaining in the second division championship.
Derby have been in management _ a form of bankruptcy protection _ since September, with the sale of the indebted club to a new owner not yet finalised.
He received two separate point deductions of 12 and then nine, due to accounting infractions under previous owner Mel Morris at the start of the season.
“We know we would have been safe without the penalties we had,” said Rooney, who has been Derby’s manager since November 2020 and was once a player-coach for England’s central team. “This is where the previous owner left us and we are trying to piece that together and try to create something really special. We got close and didn’t make it.
“I’m sure Mr. Morris watched the game at home. He himself will be disappointed, because we try to clean up the mess he left us as best we can.”
Derby’s joint managers named Chris Kirchner, an American software entrepreneur, as the preferred bidder for the club and entered an exclusivity period meant to end a lengthy acquisition process.
Rooney stressed the importance of a deal being concluded and soon.
“This has to happen quickly,” he said. “I’m not an idiot. I know Premier League teams and top clubs in the Championship are looking for some of our players. I need to be able to give them something, offer them something to stay.
“We really have a good base. The bases are there for a very good team. I need to be able to add to that cast. I know which players I want to bring to League One and I need to be able to move quickly to make sure we have the best chance of coming back.”
Otherwise, Rooney said he would be “insecure about my future”.
“I’m excited to get my teeth in and bring in the players that I want to bring in and try to develop them and try to be a successful team,” said Rooney.
“I want to rebuild this club. But the opening has to happen.”
Fulham were forced to wait to seal their immediate return to the Premier League.
Had Nottingham Forest lost to West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, currently in first place, would have secured second place and thus one of two automatic promotion slots. Forest, however, won 4-0.
Fulham can secure promotion by beating Preston at home on Tuesday.
Fulham were relegated from the Premier League last season. The London club has fluctuated between the top two divisions every season since winning promotion to the Premier League in 2018 after a four-year absence.