American investors set to seal Derby takeover

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Derby County are expected to reveal on Monday that they have become the fourth Premier League club to fall into American control after completing a multi-million pound investment deal. The club announced tantalisingly on their website last night that a press conference had been called for Monday to make "a positive announcement on the club's future."

The announcement gave no further detail but chairman Adam Pearson will confirm today that a deal has been concluded. It is understood that a statement in the programme for Derby's FA Cup fourth round match against Preston will claim the new owners will "establish Derby's brand worldwide through alliances with sports teams in USA, the Far East and Africa."

According to the statement, their investment will "add new financial firepower to the squad... to build the infrastructure at Pride Park and develop a squad which is renowned as a Premier League force."

Details of who is behind the takeover will be outlined on Monday, the likelihood is that the new backers include San Francisco-based investment banker Jerome Simon, who was linked with previous unsuccessful bids to buy into Millwall and Manchester City. Derby seem almost certain to will be relegated this season. They are 13 points adrift of safety, with only 15 matches remaining, after winning only one match in 23 since their promotion to the top flight.

When manager Paul Jewell succeeded the sacked Billy Davies at the end of November, he was made aware of the potential investment being sought and is believed to have already met representatives of the new owners, who are said to have other sports franchises in the United States. He seems sure now to have substantial funds with which to build a winning team in the Championship, assuming he does not miraculously avoid relegation.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa are the other Premier League clubs owned by Americans, although their popularity with supporters has been far from universal. Only Villa owner Randy Lerner has so far managed to stay onside with fans. George Gillett and Tom Hicks have met with hostility from Liverpool fans over their torrid relationship with manager Rafael Benitez while numbers of Manchester United fans opposed Malcolm Glazer's takeover.

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