Derby County on brink of takeover by cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour

John Percy
·3-min read
Martyn Waghorn of Derby County celebrates after he scores a free kick during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Cardiff City - GETTY IMAGES
Martyn Waghorn of Derby County celebrates after he scores a free kick during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Cardiff City - GETTY IMAGES

Derby County are on the brink of a takeover by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan, the cousin of Manchester City's owner Sheikh Mansour.

A senior member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, Sheikh Khaled and his group are in the final stages of negotiations, with the English Football League on course to fully approve the takeover early next week.

Sheikh Khaled, 62, was recently involved in high-profile bids to acquire Liverpool and Newcastle, which both fell through, but has now turned his attention to Derby, who have not competed in the Premier League since 2008 when they were relegated with a record low points total.

With talks now in the final stages, and due diligence completed, he could be confirmed as Derby's new owner before the Championship match against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday night if negotiations continue to run smoothly.

Mel Morris, the club's owner and chairman, is expected to step aside after nearly five years at the helm of the Championship club but is likely to remain as a consultant. Stephen Pearce, the club’s chief executive, is expected to remain in his position following the takeover.

Telegraph Sport understands that Chris Samuelson and Andrew Obolenksy, two British businessmen based in Switzerland, were involved in early negotiations but will not be part of the takeover moving forward.

Samuelson was involved in takeovers at Reading and Aston Villa and his presence has allegedly concerned the EFL in the past, yet his involvement has not extended beyond the embryonic stages of the process.

Sheikh Khaled, 62,  is listed as a "person with significant control" within a new company called Derventio Holdings (UK) Limited. 

He is said to be worth a reported £150 billion and has been interested in buying an English football club for some time. Talks have been ongoing for Derby since last year, it is understood.

Morris, who made his  money largely through his association with mobile game Candy Crush, has been seeking investment or a sale for nearly three years and held talks with a number of parties in the last 18 months. 

Last year he came close to agreeing a joint investment deal with Henry Gabay, a London-based businessman, while the club has also received a financial injection from a party linked to Michael Dell, the American billionaire.

Another party previously understood to have been interested in a deal was Fawaz Al-Hasawi, the controversial former owner of Derby’s local rivals Nottingham Forest.

Morris has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the EFL this season, with the club avoiding a points deduction in August after initially being charged with breaching spending rules. 

The EFL appealed against the decision over dismissing a second charge of amortisation with player contracts and that dispute is still ongoing.

Derby are currently 21st in the Championship and managed by former Holland international Phillip Cocu.

England and Manchester United's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney is a player-coach at the club. The club faces Bournemouth away on Saturday.

The EFL declined to comment on the potential takeover when contacted on Friday.