Middlesbrough denies £40m legal battle with Derby prevents sale of distressed club

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Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has responded to claims his club’s legal action is delaying Derby County’s search for a new owner by revealing a settlement offer has been made to the club’s trustees championship hit in November and no response has come back.

In a hard-hitting statement from Gibson, whose club are believed to have sought damages of more than £40million from Derby, he said Middlesbrough first made contact in November with Derby’s administrators Quantuma. Gibson said a compromise deal had been offered by Middlesbrough but there had been no response until this week, when a reply arrived from Quantuma which made no mention of the November offer .

Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers both allege the breakdown of Football League profit and sustainability [P&S] Derby rules mean that, in separate seasons, the destinies of both clubs have been badly affected. In Middlesbrough’s case, they allege he is being denied a play-off spot for the 2018-19 season. For Wycombe, they allege that meant relegation to League One last season. Both sued for damages.

In the meantime, EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said this week he may have to kick the 138-year-old club out of the league if the trustees cannot prove Derby have the £8m funds. pounds needed to survive the season and complete their mission. other payment obligations until the end of June.

Gibson, 64, says Middlesbrough “does not want to see Derby County go into liquidation” and that his club are “happy to be realistic in their expectations for Derby County to come out of administration”. He called on Quantuma “to present a firm and realistic proposal or simply to agree that Middlesbrough’s claim, once finally determined, will be fully satisfied by the new owners”. He dismissed claims that the lawsuit was “frivolous”.

In the statement, the lawyer for Gibson, chairman of Middlesbrough since 1993, said his club’s request is that any new owners accept the decision of the arbitration panel should they find Derby have breached P&S rules. The statement said: “There is some inconsistency in the arguments presented by the administrators. On the one hand, it is said that there is no prospect of a successful application, in which case there is no risk for a new owner. But, on the other hand, the administrator apparently cannot find a new owner because he will not proceed without the claim being settled due, presumably, to the fact that it is founded and could succeed.

“If the protest has no chance of succeeding, Middlesbrough cannot understand why a new owner would solve the problem by agreeing to the arbitration decision being honoured. Of course, if the claim has a value as Middlesbrough believes, there is no reason why Middlesbrough, as a creditor to football, should not be entitled to recover the sums owed to them.

Gibson and Middlesbrough allege that “Derby County and its administrators have systematically cheated under P&S rules” and “that such cheating affects the integrity of the competition”. The statement adds that Middlesbrough first “launched a claim” against Derby in May 2019 when suspicions were raised over P&S breaches during the previous 2018-19 season. A letter outlining Middlesbrough’s claim was sent to Derby in the autumn of 2020 before the legal action began in January last year. Derby County used a variety of procedural tactics to seek delays,” Boro alleged.

The Telegraph reported this week that Quantuma was under pressure to name a preferred bidder or face the prospect of January player sales to raise funds.

Championship rivals Millwall have made four offers for midfielder Louie Sibley, 20, of over £450,000 which have all been rejected by administrators.

In another serious development, Derby could lose manager Wayne Rooney to Everton this week.

The club are bravely fighting a 21-point EFL deduction for financial irregularities linked to P&S rules which appeared to have condemned them to relegation. The club went into administration in September, incurring an immediate 12-point penalty. Three bidders are in talks over a possible takeover, including former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Quantuma was contacted Tuesday for comment.

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