Paul Jewell was promised "whatever it takes", in terms of transfer funds, to establish Derby in the Premier League as the latest American investors in English football insisted the problems that have dogged Rafa Benitez at Liverpool would not be an issue for their manager.
Despite Derby's almost certain relegation to the Championship, the American-based group General Sports and Entertainment (GSE) has taken a 93 per cent stake at Pride Park in a deal worth between £50m and £60m, but will leave Jewell to get on with his job unhindered.
Andrew Appleby, the chairman of GSE, said he was aware of the precarious relationship between Benitez and Liverpool's American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, but pledged his company's relationship with Jewell would be much happier.
"I've been so occupied with getting this job done that I may have to catch up on the latest from Liverpool but my guess is that they probably made some mistakes that we don't want to repeat," he said. "We have no intention of undermining anyone on the football side. We have developed a great relationship with Paul and Adam Pearson, the Derby chairman, and understand that they have forgotten more about English football than we know. But ours is a slightly different model than Liverpool, with a bit lower expectation.
"I think we can take our lessons from Aston Villa, where Randy Lerner has done an exceptional job in communicating with the fan base. I haven't met Randy yet, but I look forward to meeting him and learning how he achieved such success."
GSE has drawn together investors from around the world to finance the takeover, which will secure the club's debts – in excess of £25m at latest estimates – as well as provide money for Jewell to buy players. Appleby joins Pearson on the board, while Tom Glick, an ex-chief marketing officer for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, is to be president and chief executive. Another GSE affiliate, Tim Hinchey, becomes executive vice-president.
Pearson, who will have the title chairman of football operations, said Derby would not match Villa's spending – Lerner has funded more than £30m in transfers – but Appleby promised Jewell would be given what he needed. "We will provide the resources necessary to be successful," he said. "We don't want to spend money foolishly and we will defer to the football people. But it will be whatever it takes. We want to make Derby a perennial in the Premier League."
Pearson was fearful Derby's dreadful season – they are bottom of the table after winning only one of their 23 matches – would scupper the deal. "I was worried the results would put them off," he said. "With the financial situation in the US, it's not the ideal time to be investing and the fact we kept losing was a major concern." But Appleby had "no misgivings". "We feel we can build the Derby County brand worldwide and create new income streams for further investment," he said. "It will be less easy in the Championship but we feel the potential is as big here as any opportunity we could have taken on."
Jewell was sure he could work successfully with the new owners. "I'm very comfortable with the deal," he said. "People will make comparisons with Liverpool, but every deal is different and every person is different. I wouldn't expect them to tell me how to run the football side of things just as I wouldn't tell them how to run their businesses. But I've met them and they seem like good people."Reuse content