Derby County supporter Jake Barker, who's also the host of the Rams Monthly Review Show, shares with ITV Central what it's been like living through his club's takeover saga.
'Fans of Derby County have lived through hell'
Supporting a football club isn’t supposed to be easy. Every club has their ups and downs, their great victories and painful defeats.
However, at Derby County, the situation is much more dire, both on and off the pitch, than can possibly be imagined.
To put it bluntly, fans of Derby County have lived through hell these past three years. It all started with the stadium sale, another play-off defeat, and rumours circling that the club were starting to drop into the red at an alarming rate.
Since then, the supporters have been let down more often than not. A takeover from UAE based group Bin Zayed International, fronted by Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed, showed much promise. Fans got their hopes up again, could this be the group to take Derby to the next level?
As it turned out, they weren’t. The takeover fell apart; the first of many.
Then came Erik Alonso, who had his bid for the club accepted. Something didn’t seem right, with Alonso’s claims on social media being debunked by investigative supporters. Things were starting to get worrying.
Derby started the 21/22 season in dire straits. Rumours of administration and points deductions were swirling. The anger and frustration of the fanbase being vented towards Mel Morris and the EFL.
'Things couldn't be more terrifying'
Then, it happened. I remember that day, being sat with my grandad, as the news came out that Derby had been placed into administration.
It was gut wrenching, essentially confining the club to relegation just weeks into the season. However, there was hope that things would be sorted out, and soon.
Fast forward to today, and things couldn’t be more terrifying. Myself, and I’m sure almost every other Derby supporter, have spent the past couple of weeks refreshing Twitter hundreds, if not thousands of times per day, hoping to see that takeover announcement.
Last week, when Chris Kirchner claimed that bank holidays were the reason behind the delays, alarm bells started to ring around the fanbase.
This was the very same excuse that Bin Zayed International used in their failed takeover.
History couldn’t be repeating itself, could it?
I’ve been waking up every morning, checking my phone straight away, only to be left disappointed that there’s no update.
I’ve been staying up late in case Chris Kirchner does another of his late-night updates, which is probably not the healthiest thing to do! But with emotions running high at the moment, it’s difficult not to!
We were assured that this was the takeover which would definitely happen, that the money was there, that the club would start to be a club on the up, rather than its current state.
But it doesn’t seem to be that way. Hopes of keeping Rooney and some of the talented out-of-contract players at the club seem to be fading by the day, and that in itself is devastating.
The fanbase, me included, have definitely developed trust issues over these past three years.
Constantly broken promises, failed deadlines, and a complete lack of communication from anyone at the top of the club have left supporters in a dark place.
This awful saga of Derby's history doesn’t look to be drawing to a close any time soon, and the fear that we’ll no longer have a club to support at all is genuinely terrifying and fills me with dread.
'Derby County means the world to me'
Derby has been such a huge part of my life, and so many other people’s lives, and the fact that it might not be around unless something is sorted soon is very worrying indeed.
I hope that this evening, there is some sort of resolution. Whether it be Chris Kirchner purchasing the club, or another party agreeing a deal. At this point, the next owner of the club isn’t as much of a concern to me, as long as we still have a club to support.
Derby County means the world to me, and so many others.
Let’s hope that tonight there’s a resolution that makes us feel a bit of hope. I feel like we’ve earned it.