Five years after Rams takeover, we ask owners to assess their time in charge
QHow would the ownership group sum up the past five years? What have been the highs and lows, and the biggest frustration?
AWhen the ownership group took over the club in January 2008, they understood the club was going through a very difficult period but believed that they could halt the decline and reposition Derby as a leader within English football.
They have been through a great deal and were not helped by the financial crisis which set their business plan back.
They haven't achieved as much success as any of us would have liked and that is a great source of frustration for everybody.
However, there is much about the club to be proud of and we all firmly believe that Derby County is currently better positioned than it has ever been during the past five years to achieve what we all want to do, which is to take Derby into the Premier League and stay there.
The success of the Academy and the development of young players such as Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick is a real positive, as is the fact that the club has stability and a great foundation to build on.
The owners believe the club has a real chance of meeting all of the desires and objectives of the fans in the coming years.
The disappointments are that progress has not been as fast as we would have liked.
We do, though, remain committed to an upwards trajectory regarding performance and achievement. We firmly believe that Derby County needs to be consistently challenging for promotion out of the Championship.
QHas there been anything about English football that has surprised you?
AWhenever a new group comes into a club, there are surprises and I think this has been magnified because it was also a new country and a new sport.
English football has a unique financial business model that, from the outside, appears unsustainable.
It is probably only now that the clubs and authorities are taking any real measures to run football in an efficient fashion.
We believe that Derby is well placed to take advantage of any change in culture and we fully intend to do so.
QHas there been as much progress as you expected?
AUndoubtedly, the ownership group expected and believed that Derby would now be in the Premier League.
We were unsuccessful when we had the benefit of the parachute payments and, as a result, we have had to formulate a fresh and longer-term plan for success.
Without the financial benefit of top tier football, progress has been considerably slower than we would have liked.
Importantly, though, the board believes that the foundations have been laid for measurable progress going forward.
QThere has never been a timetable put on a return to the Premier League but did the owners expect to return within the five years?
AYes we did. I think that everybody who cares for Derby County would have wanted us to and we had expected to go back up during the first two years in the Championship.
That did not happen and because of this, the club has decided to take a more stable and longer-term approach.
From the outside looking in, you could tell that Derby were not ready for promotion back in 2007, nor, importantly, the fall-out from relegation a season later.
When we go back next time, our ambition will be to stay in the Premier League for longer.
This is our fifth season in the Championship and we all want to now be moving into a stage where we consistently challenge.
QNigel Clough has been the manager for four years. How important is that stability and how would you sum up the job he has done?
ANigel inherited a difficult situation on a whole host of fronts.
He has steadied the ship and created a consistency of approach throughout the club.
It was important that we backed Nigel and gave him the confidence to allow him to build his own team and approach to games.
We very much believe that we are benefiting from the faith we have shown in Nigel and the challenge now is for the club to be taken to the next level. The ownership group believes the club can challenge for promotion over the coming years and we will offer support as much as we possibly can to help achieve this.
QHow would you describe the club's current financial position?
ANo-one enjoys reporting substantial losses but the club is in a stable financial position and is in good shape going forward, particularly when you acknowledge that it has been out of the Premier League for nine of the last 10 seasons.
QThe latest accounts show a loss of almost £8m following a loss of £7.7m the previous year. Is the club expecting another loss in this financial year and will it be a similar loss?
AWe believe that the accounts will show a far more positive picture next year and beyond. There have been a large number of legacy issues that we have contended with and we are slowly but surely addressing these. I am confident that next year and beyond will demonstrate an improving financial picture.
QHow can the club talk about financial stability when it keeps making such losses?
AI think, in football, stability is, to some degree, relative when you compare it with everyday business.
Alongside our competitors in the Championship we are running more efficiently than most and as the football landscape changes, we aim to turn this level of stability to our advantage.
QHow long can the club sustain such losses?
AWe do not intend to run these levels of losses going forward.
The levels of loss are not acceptable and they will be addressed. I can assure supporters that is a major priority for me.
I have reviewed and I am continuing to review all aspects of the club's operations.
I think the club can be run more efficiently and in a way that ultimately delivers greater spending ability to the playing side of the club.
QThe club talks about working towards a balanced budget model. Is that possible and, if it is, when does the club expect to reach such a stage?
AWe are committed to working towards a balanced budget.
We have not set a time-frame on this because we recognise we don't operate in isolation and that the football community also has to embrace change.
If it does, and we are hopeful that change will occur in time, then a balanced budget can be achieved while ensuring a very competitive team on the pitch.
QDo you believe it is possible to win promotion and achieve a balanced budget?
AWe do – but we recognise that this will require a sea change in English football.
The industry is finally looking at a more stable approach, although we will wait to see how this practically impacts on our competitors before we are unduly guided by regulation. In the meantime, we are committed to having as competitive a squad as possible, achieving as much as it possibly can.
We will do this within sensible financial parameters and in a way that Derby County can run as a stable organisation.
QHas the enthusiasm or commitment of the owners waned at any time in the five years? Is it still as strong as ever?
AThe ownership group love sport – and they want to win.
They are fans of Derby County and all want this club to be successful. When we lose, it hurts, and I know from my conversations with the rest of the board that these feelings are shared.
We are focused on the next five years, rather than the past.
We are invigorated by the challenge and firmly believe that we can take this next step.
QChairman Andy Appleby said back in 2008 that part of the plan was to establish Derby County as a club brand worldwide.
AFor Andy's comments to have had any chance of fruition, Derby needed to establish itself as a top 10 Premiership club.
That level of achievement was the objective when the ownership group arrived and it remains the ultimate objective now.
It is recognised that without parachute money, our progress is going to be slower but we haven't abandoned our plans to maximise every opportunity Derby has on and off the field.
QIs Derby any closer to achieving that and is the "worldwide brand" statement one that Andy regrets making given that the club is still mid-table in the Championship?
AShould Andy be regretful? I certainly don't believe that there is anything wrong in aspiring to achieve something.
The reality is that a lot has changed in both a playing and economic sense since 2008.
I think he certainly recognises that Derby will not be a global brand playing in the Championship.
Our aim is to connect as much as we possibly can with our local community in the first instance. We recognise that any success we achieve off the field will be driven by on-field successes.
QHow does Derby County take the next step from mid-table in the Championship to promotion to the Premier League?
AWe believe that this season has demonstrated a positive improvement on last year and we are committed to continued improvement in a very tough league.
We will support the manager as best we can as a business and a club.
We firmly believe that we are not very far away from being able to compete at the top of this league.