December 17 – The on-going saga of the sale of Derby County is throwing up a number of potential takeover names but one bidding group in particular is starting to catch the eye, at least from a good governance perspective.
Well travelled football executive Jez Moxey is rumoured to be a key member in one of four groups believed to be in the final stages of bidding for the club which is in liquidation.
At a time when a government and fan-led review of the game has called for an independent government regulator, greater financial transparency and tougher tests for owners and directors, Moxey’s moves will inevitably fall under the spotlight.
Moxey is currently CEO of League One club Burton Albion and a board director of the English Football League (EFL). He was formerly been chief executive of Norwich (briefly), Wolverhampton Wanderers (2000 to 2016), and Stoke City.
But the question is which hat is he really wearing? He is a director and CEO of one EFL club, he is trying to buy another EFL club, and he sits on the board of the EFL as a League One rep – a board that would have to approve his bid to buy Derby County.
Somewhere within all those commitments there are going to be some very chunky conflicts of interest.
Moxey’s Derby County bid team includes Andy Appleby, a former director of the club, and former club CEO Sam Rush. They are apparently backed by undisclosed US investors.
Derby County, one of the founding clubs of the Football League, is being sold by an administrator following owner Mel Morris’s disastrous financial management as he spent big in an attempt to return the club to the Premier League.
Things turned from bad to worse for Morris after the club was docked 12 points by the EFL for becoming insolvent, followed by a further nine points after admitting to breaches of the EFL’s profitability and sustainability rules over the £81 million sale of Pride Park to owner Mel Morris. That took their total points deductions this season to 21, and pretty much guaranteeing them relegation to League One.
Various estimates of the value of the club put it at about £30 million, though that obviously doesn’t include ownership of the stadium.
Moxey is either in the right or wrong place at the right time. Whichever way you look at it, he has a place.
Fir their part the EFL said that “Mr Moxey is not involved in any discussions in respect of Derby County as part of his role as a representative of League One on the EFL Board.”
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