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Appleby: Rams' finances in fine health


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CHAIRMAN Andy Appleby says Derby County's financial situation makes the club one of the healthiest in English football.

Derby's owners have revealed that the club's debt has been reduced to £15m.

American company General Sports and Entertainment claim they took on a debt of £31m when they bought the Rams in January 2008.

They took the debt down to 25m and then outlined plans 12 months ago to clear £10m more by the end by this summer.

In April, Derby said the figure stood at £23m and now the group of eight or nine investors has dug deep to put in £8m to reach the target set by the club.

"We've done it with the strength of a wonderful investor group," said Appleby.

"They have supplied us with the necessary means to do that and now we are down to just the £15m mortgage on Pride Park Stadium, which is exactly where we wanted to be.

"We all felt that was needed, based on the fact that this club cannot sustain a debt load in the £30m range. The figure needed to be down where it is now.

"Our investor group is a tremendous collection of folk and the nice thing about it is that we don't have any one person that has put their life savings into this.

"It is much harder to do things the way we have done.

"It is very important to point out that we have entirely put in equity, there are no other banks outside of our £15m mortgage that we have to pay back interest to. There are no American banks in this transaction.

"For all those reasons, we are in a good spot.

"We believe we are extremely healthy at this point and we are extremely pleased with where we are.

"If we are not the healthiest football club in England, we are certainly one of the healthiest.

"We want to do it right. There have been many boom and bust years in football.

"What we want to do is sustain the business model so that Derby is around for another 125 years.

Reducing the debt by £10m in the past year seemed a tall order, given the economic climate, and Appleby is full of praise for the investors who have put their hands in their pockets.

"They see we are doing everything right here," said Appleby. "They have not just bought into ourselves and our management team, they have bought into Derby.

"We bring them here and they are amazed, as we continue to be, with the wonderful support, the fantatsic facilities and the fact this club has an untold amount of potential.

"Obviously at some point, but not in the near future, they would love to have a return but they are also folks who are very patient and really have bought into the fact that this is not an overnight success story.

"This is all about building steadily.

"They are really impressed with our manager, Nigel Clough. He has fit in so well with us, not just because he has been a joy to work with and is a great manager, but he also really understands and is aligned with our philosophy of building steadily and building a strong foundation that is able to withstand the inevitable challenges.

"All in all, our investor group is always there for us.

"We have a tremendous credibility with our investor group. If we take a business model to them that makes sense, they will come through for us.

"Having said that, it is incumbent of us to increase the revenue streams which we have done since being here and continue to do."

Appleby said he is irked by criticism that they are not investing in the club.

"I would have to disagree with that, respectfully," he added.

"When you come down from the Premier League and get your parachute payments, they seem substantial but when you go through what we have gone through in the past 18 months, you realise there is a reason you get those parachute payments.

"It is very difficult to take a club with a £26m wage bill in the Premier League and then be able to get it right size for the Championship, especially when you take into account this dramatic financial crisis that we have encountered, particularly in the last 12 months. That makes any business plan tougher to hit.

"Fortunately, we have been able to come through that with flying colours.

"We still have a long way to go and one thing I really want to impress on people is that not only are we making great strides to stabilise this club but we have great ambition.

"We are completely aligned with the supporter base on getting this club back to the Premier League and we believe when we get there, we will be ready for it."

Derby's wage bill last season in the Championship was around £15m and the aim is to reduce it to £10m.

"We have addressed it, and Adam Pearson (chairman of football) has done a magnificent job doing that," said Appleby.

"It is very difficult to rebuild a club, especially given the way Derby came down from the Premier League. Clearly there is no other way of doing it other than hard work and getting the wage bill into that £10m region that the club can afford.

"No club in the Championship can afford to pay £20m to £26m on wages and, frankly, we had a wage bill that approached £15m in the Championship, which again was very high.

"With Nigel Clough, we feel we are going to build it the right way. By no means are we going to have the lowest wage bill either.

"We are doing a good job putting all available resources into the squad."

Derby are also having to find the money to pay off players who no longer figure in first-team plans. Claude Davis and Roy Carroll are two examples.

Davis was signed for £3m and handed a four-year contract. The defender has made only 31 appearances for the Rams and has reached an agreement so he can join Crystal Palace .

Carroll, now playing in Denmark, also had two years of his contract left when club and player agreed to part company by mutual consent.

Appleby says explaining such situations to the investors is not the "simplest conversation".

Chairman of football, Adam Pearson (pictured below), understands supporters will have an eye on the team and squad.

"The manager and myself are looking for steady progress and development this season as we continue to evolve the playing squad," he said.

"We are quite clear there will be highs and lows along the way, which we know will stretch the patience at times.

"I am well aware that this is not a particularly exciting message in the modern world of football when the culture is immediate success.

"However, it is crucial that we do rebuild slowly. The club is now in extremely good financial shape with manageable debt, a better wage level and more in line with our status.

"Of course, the balance between good financial management and investment in the playing squad strength needs to be kept positive and this we will do.

"We may need an extra couple of players prior to the window closing, either permanent or on loan.

"It is far more exciting to be spending on players than on reducing debt but this has to be the way to sort the club once and for all.

"Hopefully, in the coming months, we can redress the balance and move the player strengthening to the top of the list as the club becomes more and more financially secure."

Some fans believe the American owners are only here for the short-term and at some point, they will cut and run but Appleby dismisses this theory.

"There is no 'For Sale' sign here in Derby," he said. "We love it here and we want to be around a long time."


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Can't see many at all above the £1m mark, even if Cloughie is given a decent budget to play with he will stick to finding young English players from the lower leagues. If Moxey, Buxton and co. prove themselves at this level who can argue with his transfer policy?.

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