EFL give green light to Abu Dhabi royal's £60m takeover of Derby

EXCLUSIVE: EFL give green light to Abu Dhabi royal’s £60m takeover of Derby County… with change in owner set to end the reign of under-pressure boss Phillip Cocu

  • Derby’s takeover bid from Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan edged closer
  • The EFL gave it the green light at a board meeting that took place on Thursday
  • Zayed Al Nehayan is the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour
  • He previously failed in a bid to buy Premier League outfit Newcastle United 

The EFL have given the green light for Derby’s proposed £60million sale to Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan to go ahead despite the prospective buyer’s links to Abu Dhabi ruling family. 

The subject was discussed in detail at an EFL Board meeting on Thursday with no objections raised to the sale proceeding as planned subject to Zayed Al Nehayan agreeing with finer points of the sale with current owner Mel Morris.

Zayed Al Nehayan is a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, but despite the potential for conflicts of interest the EFL will not block the sale, as the Premier League did when Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund attempted to buy Newcastle earlier this year. 

Derby are close to being taken over by Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan

The 62-year-old Zayed Al Nehayan also failed with a £350m bid for Newcastle and two years ago held preliminary talks about buying Liverpool which did not progress.

The impending takeover at Derby could seal the fate of manager Phillip Cocu, who has kept his job despite a dismal run of form largely because of Morris’ fears that a sacking could disrupt the sale process and affect the club’s valuation. 

Derby’s players do not expect the Dutchman to survive the forthcoming international break, although he took charge of training following talks with Morris earlier on Thursday and is expected to take charge of Saturday’s Championship game against Barnsley.

The prospective owner is the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour (middle)

A change in ownership is expected to seal the fate of Phillip Cocu (second left) after a poor run

Cocu is under huge pressure after the Rams were beaten 1-0 at home by QPR on Wednesday to leave them second-bottom of the Championship, saved only from last place by the points deduction handed to Sheffield Wednesday before the campaign started. 

Under Cocu this term, Derby have won only one of their 10 league fixtures and have produced a series of lacklustre performances. Morris has twice denied publicly that Cocu’s position was under threat but he is believed to be on borrowed time now.

Cocu signed a four-year deal after replacing Frank Lampard in summer 2019 and guided Derby to 10th in his first season, helped by Wayne Rooney who initially transformed fortunes when he began his player-coach’s role last January. 

Rooney’s deal runs out at the end of the campaign and he has made no secret of his desire to move into management.

Liam Rosenior, who is part of Cocu’s coaching staff, holds all the required qualifications – unlike Rooney – and could also step in.

 Current owner Mel Morris (left) has been looking for fresh investment for some time now

Wayne Rooney is an option to replace Cocu as he has expressed a desire for management

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