Derby boss Wayne Rooney says everyone can now “see a future” for the Rams after Chris Kirchner was finally named as the preferred bidder to take over the Championship club.
“It’s a real positive step – for the players, the fans and myself,” Rooney told BBC Radio Derby.
The relegation-bound Rams are nine points from safety with six games left.
“The important thing is this club survived,” Rooney added.
“As I was sat here last week, I don’t think any of use knew what the future of the club was going to be.
“But we can now see a future for the club. There’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that starts in a positive way for next season.”
Kirchner’s successful offer to the club’s joint administrators Quantuma came after he withdrew his initial bid in December.
After a failed attempt to take over Championship rivals Preston, 34-year-old Kirchner went back in for Derby. His announcement as the chosen bid came 196 days after former owner Morris placed Derby into administration, after proposed takeovers by Derventio Holdings and Spanish businessman Erik Alonso collapsed last year.
Rooney spoke with Kirchner several times during his first attempt to take control and the former Everton and Manchester United striker said he was pleased a deal had been done.
“He came over a few times to the training ground and watched a few games when he made his bid in December,” Rooney, 36, said.
“He’s obviously looked at other clubs and I think the size of Derby County and the history of the club – he’s obviously wanted to take over.
“I’ve spoken to him about what we have to do. My plans have obviously changed since December – I’ve lost players – so I need to readjust what I want to do and how we move forward.
“There’s still work to be done to get it complete but it’s the first sign this club can move forward and I’m delighted about that.”
Kirchner’s deal ‘a big relief’
With months of uncertainty now seemingly over with Kirchner leading the process to take Derby out of administration, Rooney said there was a real sense of relief around the club.
“I think for the staff that have been here a long time, it’s been a big relief for them. Players will always have clubs to take them – but it’s the first positive bit of news we’ve had off the pitch for a long time,” he said.
“There’s still work to be done to make sure the deal gets completed and we exit administration as soon as we can.
“I love this place and the staff here. The players and fans have been brilliant to me as well.
“I can work on my plans now and see where Chris wants to go. We can work on that together.”
While Kircher and his team address dealing with the club’s debts, which include £29.3m owed to HM Revenue and Customs, Rooney’s focus is keeping the Rams in Championship.
But, despite their precarious position, Rooney says the prospective owner is not phased by a likely drop into League One.
“Chris knows where the club’s at and he’s still prepared to come in and move the club forward,” Rooney said.
“We all want the club to be in the top league but that takes time.
“I think what we all have to realise we may have to take a backward step – whether that’s staying in the Championship or go into League One.
“We’re starting from scratch so the fans have to trust in Chris and myself and the staff that we’re going to do the best we can to get this club on the right path to get back to the top.”
‘We have to be realistic’
Every since Derby were hit with a 21-point penalty for going into administration and breaching accounting rules in November, relegation has looked inevitable.
But Rooney has orchestrated a survival bid of real character and the Rams still have a chance of staying up – albeit a slim one – after fellow strugglers Reading beating Stoke on Tuesday to increase the gap to safety for Derby to nine points.
As a result, Rooney admits every game left probably has to be won – starting with Saturday’s trip to Swansea.
“Yeah I think I said that before the last game,” he added. “Obviously Reading getting a win makes it difficult for us.
“We have to just focus on Saturday’s game and we have to keep believing. If there’s a small chance we have to give ourselves the best chance of taking it.
“I’m not stupid. We have to be realistic but if Reading and Barnsley slip up we have to be ready to pounce on that.
“Character-wise, the lads are very strong. They stick together and if we got relegated in the next three games – the last three games they’d give everything.
“If there’s a small chance we have to believe in that.”
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