Wayne Rooney has stepped down as manager of embattled Derby.
The Manchester United and England great ended his playing career with the Rams before taking his first step into management with the club in November 2020.
Derby were plunged into administration at the start of last season and were relegated from the Sky Bet Championship despite Rooney leading a valiant fight against the drop in the face of a combined 21-point deduction.
Wayne Rooney has stepped down from his position as the manager of Derby County
Derby were relegated from the Championship last season amid their financial struggles
There remains uncertainty over Derby’s long-term future with the club still in administration
Rooney revealed that the club tried their utmost to persuade him to stay but his mind was made up to depart. He had a year remaining on his contract at Derby.
Last season Rooney often had to rely on many fringe players and youngsters as Derby attempted to avoid relegation from the Championship.
He was appointed as interim manager in November 2020 having previously been a player at the club. Rooney then took permanent charge in January 2021.
Rooney told Derby’s official website: ‘Over the course of the Summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County.
‘Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision but my mind was made up.
‘My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge.
Having previously been a player at the club, Rooney took charge of Derby in November 2020 before getting the job permanently in January 2021
‘Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last eighteen months. I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support. I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times.
‘Finally, I am aware that the club still have interested parties who wish to take over the running of the club. To them I say this, Derby County is a great club with a great history and great fans. I wish you all the best and much success for the future.’
A spokesperson on behalf of the joint administrators of Derby County Football Club (‘The Club’) said: ‘The joint administrators are very disappointed that Wayne has taken the difficult decision to leave the club and we have spent some time today trying to persuade him to stay but understand his reasons for wanting to go.
‘We are extremely grateful to him for his excellent work in the face of challenging on-field circumstances in the 2021/22 season and admire the manner in which he has led the team, the club and the local community through various off-field issues.
‘The joint administrators recognise that staff and supporters will be frustrated and equally disappointed by this news, but we all wish him, his wife Coleen and their four boys every success in the future and we are sure they will always be welcomed back.
‘All parties recognise the need to conclude a sale of the business and assets of the Club, as a matter of urgency and the joint administrators wish to reconfirm that Wayne’s departure will not affect those ongoing, positive discussions.’
There remains much uncertainty regarding Derby’s long-term future. The club could have just five senior players available going into pre-season.
Mike Ashley (L) has been tipped for a takeover of Derby but local businessman David Clowes has now announced his intention to purchase the club
However, they will be able to start the new season after receiving a short term loan from local businessman David Clowes.
Clowes, chairman of Clowes Developments, has made an interim loan, as well as acquiring the club’s stadium, Pride Park, the administrators, Quantuma, confirmed in a statement issued on Friday.
In addition, Clowes, a passionate Rams fan, has announced his intention to purchase the club.
It comes amid reports earlier this week that Mike Ashley had taken the next step in his bid to takeoever the crisis-ridden Rams by putting aside £50million to acquire the club and stadium.
Chris Kirchner emerged as a preferred bidder for Derby but was unable to confirm funds
In a statment on Friday, Clowes Developments said: ‘Derbyshire-based property group, Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd, are proud to announce they have successfully purchased the company that owned Pride Park Stadium from fellow local businessman Mel Morris.
‘Additionally, Clowes have issued an interim loan to the club which will enable Derby County to start the next season and trade whilst a deal to purchase the club is concluded.
‘Clowes have also confirmed that they will, today, submit a bid to purchase Derby County Football Club. The loan agreement has now been formalised which has enabled the announcements to be made.’
A preferred bidder in American Chris Kirchner was announced in April, but the process dragged on and the entrepreneur finally stepped aside earlier this month when he could not confirm funds.