Americans faced with Derby debt

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The Derby chairman, Adam Pearson, has warned the club's new American owners to expect to lose money if the club is to make a rapid return to the Premier League following what appears to be their inevitable relegation.

General Sports and Entertainment has paid around £50m for a 93 per cent stake in the club, who go into tonight's match with Manchester City with one win in 23 League games. Yet Pearson has admitted that achieving both profitability and success in the Championship is virtually impossible. "If you want to be profitable you run your salaries at 50 per cent of your turnover and in the Championship that is not a great deal," he said. "You could win promotion on a £6m wage bill if you were fantastically well run and made great recruitment but it is highly unlikely.

"The teams at the top end of the Championship will be operating on budgets of £12m."

Derby will be cushioned for two years by parachute payments against the loss of Premier League revenue but the club's turnover in 2006 in the Championship amounted to only £11.3m. "It needs wealthy people to run a football club and that is why, to afford that kind of wage bill and the transfer fees, I have had to get investors to compete at that level," Pearson said.

The club already have debts of more than £25m and may have to spend as much again to equip manager Paul Jewell with a squad strong enough to bounce back.

Yet the GSE chairman, Andrew Appleby, is undaunted. "We know it is not about day to day profits in sport," he said. "We probably will not see a profit until we sell the club. But with so much money coming into the game from television I see all Premier League clubs increasing in value significantly in the next five years."