Pride Park’s ownership status is now the only impediment to Derby County’s takeover after it was given conditional approval by the English Football League (EFL).

US businessman Chris Kirchner has exchanged contracts on a takeover of the club with the administrators, Quantuma, who said the sale would be completed on condition of the stadium being sold, approval from the EFL and receiving secured creditor consent.

The EFL gave conditional approval late on Tuesday and said final approval was now subject to Kirchner and his 9CK Sports Holdings Limited group completing on the asset purchase agreement and a deal being finalised in respect of a lease on the stadium by May 31, 2022.

Derby’s current owner and former chairman Mel Morris separated Pride Park from the football club in 2018 and placed the club into administration in September. The stadium is not part of the administration process meaning any deal has to be struck independently.

Derby City Council said last week it is working on a deal to acquire Pride Park in an effort to ensure Championship football club Derby County exits administration.

Derby — coached by former England captain Wayne Rooney — has been in administration since September, with the 21-point deduction being levelled against the club for breaching English Football League (EFL) financial fair play (FFP) rules ultimately leading to its relegation to League One at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Kirchner has admitted that his efforts to take Derby out of administration ultimately come down to the stadium situation.

He recently told the club’s RamsTV platform: “It is just the way the entities under the previous owner were tied together. The stadium and the rights to that stadium are intertwined for a lot of those. Without getting too detailed or too complex, and obviously to have a club and to have a deal officially approved by the EFL you have to have a lease or own a ground.

“You have to have somewhere to play and so for all those reasons, it’s tied in. Because it is not part of the administration it has added a layer of complexity in trying to get this deal done because of the different parties that have to make decisions on it.”

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