Nadine Dorries, the new culture and sport secretary, has vowed to ‘take action’ to prevent more football clubs going bankrupt after Derby County became the latest to run into financial trouble.
She was responding to comments from Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville, who called on her to appoint an independent regulator to ‘stop this’.
On the championship side, the Rams, as Derby is called, are managed by formerManchester United legend Wayne Rooney, but they could be deducted up to 21 points after announcing their intention to go into administration.
The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed the club will face a 12-point deduction once the insolvency event is finalised, on top of the nine-point deduction agreed in talks with the EFL this week for breaching the Championship’s Financial Fair Play rules.
Owner Mel Morris told Sky Sports News he was “devastated”, citing the financial impact of COVID-19[female[feminine and a series of failed takeover attempts as the cause of their crisis.
Neville said a fan-led review by former minister Tracey Crouch had recommended setting up an independent regulator to change the rules around ownership in English football.
He said: “When owners come into football clubs there should be an obligation to be able to cover their obligations that they are committing to. Until we have that in place we are going to continue to have big problems.
“We need to hear from Nadine Dorries that she is going to support the recommendations to prevent this from happening.”
In a tweet, Ms Dorries said: “Gary – understand the widespread concern and look forward to receiving the TC’s report and final recommendations later this fall. We will take action wherever necessary to protect our national game. “
The Football Supporters Association also called for government action, tweeting: “Derby’s move into administration is just the latest example of the need for stronger and independent financial regulation in football, which we hope the government will provide with the results of the Fan Led Review.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture and Sport, Alison McGovern, said: “Derby County fans will be in despair at this news. Football clubs are not a business like any other. Supporters are right to want the identity and history of their clubs to be protected.
“Labour has been campaigning on this for a decade, and the legislation isn’t coming anytime soon.
“The Government must respond to the Crouch Review and, in the meantime, use all the influence at their disposal to help Derby County fans now.”
Trustees are due to be appointed early next week and will take full control of the finances of a club which is losing between £1.3m and £1.5m a month, according to Mr Morris, with the priority of paying the creditors and HMRC.
A statement from Derby on Friday said: “This action has been necessitated by a number of developments.
“Last week it became clear that the ongoing process to identify a buyer was unlikely to be productive in the short term, despite the number of negotiations with credible parties.”
The EFL confirmed: “The club will be subject to an event of insolvency under the terms of the EFL regulations.
“As a result, the club faces a deduction of 12 points. Once the EFL has received official notification of the claim, the deduction will be applied.”
Derby County sit 16th in the Championship after their first seven games of the season.