Local property developer David Clowes has had his bid to buy Derby County accepted and hopes to complete the purchase on Wednesday.
Clowes announced his intention to try to take the Rams out of administration on Friday after buying Pride Park from Derby’s former owner Mel Morris.
Derby’s administrators Quantuma said Clowes, 53, had now been granted preferred bidder status.
The news came as the Rams appointed Liam Rosenior, 37, as interim manager.
Rosenior will take charge when Derby report back for pre-season training on Monday following Friday’s departure of England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney as boss.
Rooney, 36, said the League One club, which has been in administration since September, “needs to be led by someone with fresh energy”.
However, the Rams’ players will now return to training with renewed optimism after news that Clowes’ bid for the club, which was relegated from the Championship last season after being deducted 21 points for going into administration and breaches of English Football League accounting rules, had been accepted.
His company, Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd – based in the Derbyshire village of Ednaston and with assets worth a reported £300m – had already given a loan to the club to allow them to start the forthcoming season after American businessman Chris Kirchner’s attempt to buy the Rams collapsed earlier this month.
In a statement, Quantuma said “positive discussions” with Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd over the past few days had “resulted in a credible and acceptable offer being submitted”.
The administrators said the offer complied with EFL insolvency policy, which will mean Derby will avoid a further points deduction.
“The joint administrators will now enter into a period of exclusivity with Clowes, with a completion of the acquisition of the business and the assets of the club targeted for 29 June 2022,” said the statement.
“All parties are now working hard to conclude what is still a complex legal transaction within a very short timeframe. Once concluded, the transaction will enable the club to move forward and prepare for the upcoming season out of administration.
“It will also ensure that Pride Park stadium and the club are under the control of a new, local owner with the commitment and resources to enable the club to move forward with a clean slate.
“The offer also provides the best return for creditors and enables the joint administrators to fulfil their statutory duties and will ensure that there are no further points deductions levied against the club once it is out of administration.”
Clowes’ preferred bidder status means that the administrators will not consider other offers, with former Rams chairman Andy Appleby and ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley among the interested parties.
His purchase of Pride Park removed one of the major problems the administrators have had in trying to sell Derby, but had been kept confidential until the loan agreement to ensure the club had the funds to start the season had been completed.
When he announced his intention to bid for the Rams on Friday, Clowes said buying the stadium “seemed the obvious first step” to help rescue the club.
“As a proud Derby supporter, it was inconceivable to me that the club was at risk of falling away,” he said.
“We’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the stadium purchase and loan agreement to be able to get the club going again in time for the next season.”
Should the deal go through as planned, however, Clowes will have plenty of work to do to help make Derby competitive, not least confirming the appointment of a permanent manager.
The Rams will also start pre-season training with only five first-team players under contract for next season, a total which does not include a goalkeeper or any defenders.
Restrictions placed on the Rams while in administration have included a transfer embargo, which has left the club so far unable to sign new players nor offer fresh deals to those whose contracts expire at the end of this month.
Charlie Slater, BBC East Midlands Today
For nearly 300 days Derby fans have been waiting for their knight in shining armour to ride to the rescue. They may finally have that in David Clowes.
From a family well established in the local area, you do not have to stop too many people in Derby before you find someone who has done some kind of work or business with the Clowes family over the years.
Given the nature of this hellish period, that has cost the local community in ways that cannot be measured in just pounds and pence, you can forgive there still being some scepticism.
There is now an in-built ‘wait and see’ approach as Rams fans have long since learned is necessary when waiting for a takeover that for months appeared may never come. However, even the most cynical must now feel optimistic that their annus horribilis is nearing a close.
Clowes already owns Pride Park stadium and is putting money into the club to fund their day-to-day running by way of an interim loan. His company is the first interested party to do so throughout the past nine months.
As of today they are the preferred bidders to conclude a takeover and have entered a period of exclusivity with the club’s administrators, which in turn will sideline other interested parties like Mike Ashley and Andy Appleby.
Also key is that the bid, according to Quantuma, will “provide the best return for creditors” and “ensure that there are no further points deductions levied against the club once it is out of administration”.
Good news for newly named interim manager Liam Rosenior, who can go about work looking to add to an existing squad of just five players returning for pre-season training on Monday morning.
The Clowes, an unassuming family of Derby fans who have kept a watchful eye on the chaos at their beloved club, said in their own statement last week that they just “needed to do something”.
With a completion date set for Wednesday, 29 June, maybe, just maybe this endless saga is nearing a close.