Clowes open to fresh investment at Derby

Derby County owner David Clowes with a trophy claimed for winning promotion from League One as runners-up
Owner David Clowes is a lifelong Derby County fan [Getty Images]

Derby County owner David Clowes says he is open to new investors coming into the club to help fund the Rams' aspirations of returning to the Premier League.

The Derbyshire property developer spent £55m to take the club out of administration in the summer of 2022.

Clowes bankrolled the rebuild of the club in League One and return to the Championship as third-tier runners-up last season.

He says the East Midlands side are debt-free and have "a great platform to work from" with "a good Championship budget".

"I'm really excited about the future at Derby," Clowes told BBC Radio Derby.

"We wouldn't turn down investment if we go down that route, obviously. At the end of the day it's not about me, it's about what's best for Derby County Football Club.

"It would certainly help us going forward. If our aim is to get out of the Championship and get into the Premier League, then yeah, why not?

"We have to aim as high as we possibly can."

Lifelong Derby fan Clowes stressed that any considerations about new investment do not signal an intention to relinquish his control of the club, despite again admitting he was a "reluctant" buyer in the first instance.

"I want to be in it [the club] long-term, for sure," Clowes said.

"We have a plan for this football club, to build it up and get it back to where it should be. But it will take time.

"I get it, I'm a local fan, I've been around the club a long time and it's important that if you go down the route of investment, whether it's foreign investment or whatever, you still need someone onboard locally."

Derby were last a Premier League side in 2008 and twice got to within one win of a top-flight return in the 11 years that followed relegation.

It was just two years after their defeat by Aston Villa in the 2019 Championship play-off final at Wembley that the club went into administration under former owner Mel Morris and battled to avoid financial oblivion.

Clowes says he will not risk the club's future in pursuit of promotion and would rather look to emulate Luton Town's promotion success of 2022-23.

The Hatters, who were a fixture in the old Division One from the early 1980s to 1992 before years of decline at Kenilworth Road, became the first team to go from non-league football to the Premier League when they went up last year.

"We don't want to overspend," Clowes said.

"We don't want this 'boom and bust' that we've had before. We are making the right decisions, or I believe we are, to see the club progress.

"You only have to look at Luton Town, and what they have done. They are the classic example of [what can happen] if you get it right.

"I believe Derby County, with the fan base and the facilities, why not - why can't we get to the Premier League?"

Derby have 'a long way to go'

Despite playing in England's third tier last season, Derby's average attendance was higher than that of six Premier League clubs - Crystal Palace, Fulham, Burnley, Brentford, Luton and Bournemouth.

"We've got the club out of the third tier and there is a long way to go," Clowes said.

"From where we were to where we want to be, there is a lot of work to do, so it's nowhere near complete."

In a wide-ranging and rare interview with BBC Radio Derby, Clowes also spoke about his joy in seeing the club promoted, unwavering backing of head coach Paul Warne last season and the club's summer transfer dealings.

He also confirmed that England cricket's former head of performance Mo Bobat and former selector Ed Smith will head a new sporting intelligence department at the Rams.

"You can take the cricket out of it, at the end of the day these are two very knowledgeable guys," Clowes said.

"Data is data, whether it's football or cricket, motor racing or any other sport, it's the same."