Efforts at Pride Park in the 2021-22 campaign have been severely hampered by EFL sanctions, but they are still battling for survival

The 2021-22 campaign was always going to be a testing one for Derby County, having only avoided relegation out of the Championship on the final day of the previous season, but a 21-point deduction further complicated matters for Wayne Rooney’s side.

The Rams have been hit hard by EFL-imposed sanctions and find themselves swimming against the tide in an ongoing effort to preserve the club’s second tier status.

Why do they find themselves in this predicament and can a Manchester United and England legend keep them up against the odds? GOAL takes a look…

Derby were initially stung with a 12-point deduction in September 2021 for entering administration, with that punishment dropping them immediately to the foot of the Championship table.

Things then went from bad to worse for the East Midlands outfit when a further nine-point penalty, plus a further suspended three points, was handed out in November.

Derby were left paying the price for historical financial mismanagement that occurred during Mel Morris’ time as owner.

Admissions of guilt were made regarding breaches of the English Football League’s profitability and sustainability rules, with Morris selling Pride Park to one of his own companies for £81 million ($110m) before immediately leasing it back to the club.

The Rams had initially been cleared of any rule breaks by an independent tribunal in August 2020, but the EFL appealed that decision and won a part of that case which related to the measurement of player values – which is called amortisation.

Carl Jackson from Derbys administrators, Quantuma, said at the time of a 21-point deduction being confirmed: “This has been a difficult matter to navigate bearing in mind the various issues concerned.

“While point deductions are never ideal for any club, it was critical to the clubs future that all matters were concluded between the EFL and the club in relation to historical issues.

“This conclusion allows us to proceed with our restructuring strategy for the club with prospective interested parties.”

Derby must now find a buyer this year – one willing to pay creditors at least 25 per cent of what they are owed – in order to avoid a further 15-point penalty.

Despite seeing Derby play out their season against a backdrop of serious relegation and liquidation threats, Rooney and his coaching team having been doing their best to prioritise on-field matters.

Manchester United and England’s all-time leading goalscorer was appointed as the club’s permanent manager in January 2021, having initially taken the reins on an interim basis following the dismissal of Phillip Cocu.

After overcoming early struggles, Rooney – who is the star of a recently-released documentary on Amazon Prime – was able to deliver Championship survival in dramatic fashion and the intention is to repeat those heroics in the current campaign.

Despite seeing 21 points wiped off the board, the Rams do not sit bottom of the second tier table.

“No matter what you do, no matter how hard it is, no matter how challenging it is, do it with a smile on your face.”#DCFC #dcfcfans pic.twitter.com/r71NxqHNr5

They have suffered only 10 defeats through 31 games – the same number as arch-rivals Nottingham Forest, who sit seventh – and are back in credit to the tune of 18 points.

Reading, who sit just outside the drop zone at present, are only five points better off with 15 fixtures still to take in.

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