Derby County’s prospective new owner, American businessman Chris Kirchner, has deleted his Twitter account after a misogynistic tweet from almost a decade ago resurfaced on social media.
Kirchner was on Wednesday confirmed as the preferred bidder to buy Derby, and he was granted exclusivity by the administrators to try to complete a deal to take over the East Midlands club.
In 2013, he posted a message which said: “Men categorize (sic) women in one of four ways… #factsonly “
The tweet went on to include terms which are abusive and misogynistic.
When the message was re-posted by a Derby fan, Kirchner replied to say he is not sexist in any way, and was brought up alongside his sister, by a single mother.
Sky Sports News has been told that Kirchner regrets the original message, which was an ill-advised attempt to quote song lyrics and movie quotes. He is adamant that those words do not represent his personal views.
It was as a direct result of that historical tweet re-emerging that Kirchner decided to delete his previous Twitter account.
His new account has just a single message on it, posted earlier today – a Ram emoji.
‘I hope he’s grown up and won’t do it again’
Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire Pauline Latham speaking on Sky Sports News about Kirchner’s deleted tweet:
“I haven’t seen them, but I understand they are pretty unpleasant.
“I think social media is a great thing in some ways, but it is a terrible thing in others. People put stuff on social media in the spur of the moment and without always thinking.
“I don’t know why he put it on, but it is a decade ago. He has hopefully grown up since then. If he’s taken it off [social media] that is a good sign. I would like to hear him say he doesn’t agree with those views.
“I haven’t actually heard him speak about it but there will be very few people out there who take part in social media who haven’t done something they then regret, and they don’t always take it down straight away so I’m hoping he will come out with a strong statement saying he does regret what he said 10 years ago.
“In the eyes of many people 10 years is a lifetime away and life has changed. They do sound as if they are inappropriate and unpleasant. We don’t want that sort of thing, but I really hope he’s grown up and he won’t be doing that again.”
Kirchner’s bid to buy Derby accepted
Kirchner appeared to be out of the running to take over Derby when he withdrew his original offer just before Christmas and turned his attentions instead to Preston North End.
But talks with Preston broke down last week and he has now been named as Derby’s preferred bidder.
A statement from Derby’s joint administrators read: “Following a rigorous and well-documented marketing process, the joint administrators of Derby County Football Club have accepted an offer from Chris Kirchner to acquire Derby County Football Club out of administration.
“This follows receipt of his recent bid for the club. The bid is for the purchase of the football club only with the terms of the club’s ongoing occupation of Pride Park stadium to be negotiated with external stakeholders.
“Mr Kirchner had initially expressed an interest in acquiring the club in late 2021, and the joint administrators have welcomed Mr Kirchner’s renewed interest.
“Discussions have taken place with key stakeholders, and Mr Kirchner has been named as the preferred bidder for the club, with immediate effect.
“The joint administrators have entered into a period of exclusivity with Mr Kirchner and his advisers, during which further operational, commercial and contractual discussions will take place.”
As preferred bidder, Kirchner will have exclusivity in accessing all of the club’s confidential accounts, and give him preferential status to complete a takeover of the club.
Any change of ownership is unlikely to happen for two months at least, Sky Sports News has been told, and there are still many more barriers to overcome.
The most significant hurdle is the ownership of Pride Park, which still belongs to Mel Morris, and a separate deal to either purchase or lease the stadium to Kirchner will need to be agreed.
Then there is the lengthy due diligence needed for Kirchner’s accountants to study all Derby’s finances, and further negotiations with creditors to clear the club’s debts.
However, it is a hugely positive step after months of despair for Derby fans, who have seen their club in administration for more than six months.
Carl Jackson, joint administrator, added: “We are delighted to be able to name Mr Kirchner as preferred bidder, which the Joint Administrators consider represents the best deal for creditors and one which will secure the long-term future of the club.
“The naming of our preferred bidder represents a significant milestone in the administration, and we look forward to working with Mr Kirchner and his team to complete the sale of the club.”
Kirchner attended several Derby matches – against Luton, Blackburn and QPR – and also visited manager Wayne Rooney and the squad at the club’s Moor Farm training centre.
Rooney at the time spoke favourably about the possibility of Kirchner taking over. “He has got some really good ideas and as long as everything is right for the club I can see it being a real positive,” the Derby boss said.
In withdrawing his offer for Derby in December, Kirchner said he had presented a “very detailed, generous and ambitious long-term sustainable business plan”.
‘A massively significant first step’
Sky Sports News Senior Reporter Rob Dorsett:
“This is hugely positive news, and the first shaft of light in a very dark tunnel for Derby County fans. The club has been in administration for more than six months, and failed promises from Quantuma, the club’s administrators, stated they would be at this stage shortly after Christmas.
“That hints at just how complex a financial situation they are dealing with, and it should provide a note of caution for anyone who thinks this is an automatic solution to all of Derby’s problems. It’s a massively significant first step – but a useful analogy is when someone selling their house has accepted a verbal offer from a would-be buyer.
“How many house sales do we see collapse amid the red tape that comes before completion? The same risk applies here to Derby. Kirchner or the administrators could walk away at any stage if they aren’t happy. Nothing legally binding has yet been signed.
“And remember Kirchner has already walked away once – before Christmas, when he felt his offer wasn’t progressing. He then turned his attentions to Preston North End, but when that attempted purchase failed last week, he came back to Derby.
“Kirchner has already shown he has the funds to buy the club – that was a condition laid down to all bidders by the administrators. But he will now be given full and unobstructed access to Derby’s accounts for the first time, as ‘preferred bidder’.
“I’ve been told throughout this process that there are plenty of demons within those accounts – many of them, it’s hoped, have already been exorcised by the administrators.
“But it remains unclear what stage negotiations are at with the various groups who are owed money by Derby – the football creditors (who must be paid in full, otherwise the EFL will impose a points penalty for the start of next season), the non-football creditors (who are likely to only get a proportion of what they are owed) and the HMRC (who are unlikely to accept greatly reduced payments on what they are owed).
“The EFL will require much reassurance, after their recent history with Derby. First and foremost, Kirchner and his directors will have to comply with the Owners and Directors test.
“Even more significantly, Kirchner has struck a verbal agreement to buy the club. He has not struck a deal to buy the Stadium. Pride Park is owned separately by Mel Morris, and negotiations must begin now to agree terms for Derby to continue to use it in the future.
“What happened to Coventry City, with the dispute over the Ricoh Arena which dragged on for years, is a cautionary tale for Derby. And whilst I’ve been told Morris has been very transparent with the numbers, and has offered the chance for Pride Park to be bought or leased by the new owners, it’s yet to be determined whether those numbers are acceptable to Kirchner.
“The fans will hope that things move smoothly from here, but they are unlikely to move quickly.
“Kirchner and his team of forensic accountants will now begin their process of ‘due diligence’, which will test whether what’s been offered for sale is as it appears. Who knows how long it will take for binding agreement to be reached with all the creditors, and for a separate legal agreement to be struck with Morris over Pride Park.
“A crucial next step will be to convince the EFL that this agreement provides financial proof that Derby can continue as an operating football club. If it can prove that, the hope is that the ban on player registrations at the club can be lifted quickly.
“As Wayne Rooney has pointed out, Derby will be left with just three contracted senior players come the summer, because they aren’t allowed to agree new contracts with those players whose deals are due to expire.
“Whatever happens, it’s likely to be two-three months minimum before Kirchner could complete a takeover. And by then, Derby’s relegation to League One will almost certainly have been confirmed (Reading’s win on Wednesday night adding that to that sense of inevitability).
“So, it’s time for a reality check. There are sure to be many more dark times for Derby ahead. But for now – take nothing away from their loyal and long-suffering supporters. This is a key and momentous first step towards what they hope will be a much brighter, and more stable future.”
Rooney on Derby: ‘It is a challenge’
Derby boss Rooney was a guest alongside Jamie Carragher and David Jones on Monday Night Football this week and the former Manchester United forward talked the challenges he is facing at the club, including the off-field issues of a points deductions, transfer embargoes and the ongoing takeover saga.
“All I want to do is do my job and give the best version of myself as a coach,” Rooney told Monday Night Football. “All this is tough, it is a challenge which I am so proud of the staff and the players for getting through this.
“From the players point of view, you see that we’re selling out the ground every game and getting big crowds every week, and that is down to them players for giving the fans hope. It is difficult for the staff because some of them have been there for a long time and they have bad days, especially when they think something might happen with the football club.
“Of course there are bad days and I have to lift them. It is a big challenge but I am a fighter and will fight right till the end whether we go down or not.There is still a possibility that we can stay up, and we will keep going until we go down, or stay up, but at the end of the season we need to reassess. At the minute, we don’t know what the future of the club is, we really have to sit down and I am desperate for a preferred bidder to come in and discuss their ambitions and about how they are going to take the club forward.”
“It’s not ideal and not the experience I wanted to go through. These things happen and we are where we are and I have had to deal with that,” he added.
“I have brought these younger players probably earlier than they should be coming in, and the only thing I want to say on those players, we have really worked on changing their mentality and getting them to compete in the Championship.”