Derby County’s administrators are reviewing the offers to buy the club that were made before Wednesday’s 5pm deadline and are seeking clarification on a number of issues before deciding on a preferred bidder.

It is still not clear how many bids were lodged, but Sky Sports News understands a number of late enquiries were made by parties other than the three who had already expressed clear interest in a takeover.

Complete confidentiality now surrounds the process, as the administrators study the financial details of each bid and discuss the finer details of the terms presented by the would-be buyers.

It may be Friday – or later – before any announcement is made about which buyer has been selected to move to the next stage and try to complete a takeover.

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Sky Sports News understands a number of late enquiries were made

Whilst there has been no comment from any of the interested parties or the administrators themselves, Sky Sports News believes former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley did make a formal bid to buy Derby shortly before Thursday’s deadline.

Former Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley was seen in the directors’ box at Pride Park during Wednesday night’s defeat to Millwall.

  • Millwall continue charge to dent Derby hopes
  • Championship goals and highlights

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Millwall.

It isn’t yet clear whether offers were tabled by the American Carlisle Group, or by the consortium of local businesspeople headed by former Derby chairman Andy Appleby – both of whom have been involved in extensive talks over a potential takeover in recent months.

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  • Rooney: I’d love to manage Man Utd one day
  • Prutton’s Championship predictions
  • Championship goals and highlights

The EFL has set a deadline of Monday for the administrators to prove they have sufficient funds to complete their remaining fixtures this season.

After a month’s extension already, it is thought the EFL’s patience is wearing thin, though the organising body may stop short of removing Derby’s right to play in the Championship, so long as they are reassured that proper progress is being made, and that security over the club’s immediate financial future is close at hand.

The administrator, Andrew Hosking, told Sky Sports News he was confident they would be able to appoint a preferred bidder by the end of this week – a key move in proving to the EFL that Derby have sufficient funds to fulfil their remaining fixtures this season.

Derby: What's happened so far?

Went into administration five months ago.

Handed an automatic 12-point deduction by the EFL.

EFL imposes a further nine-point deduction for breaches of financial rules.

Sky Sports News reveals Derby’s debts are in excess of £60m.

Several thousand Derby fans march through the city demanding the club be saved.

January 31st – EFL deadline for Derby’s administrators to prove they have sufficient funds to complete this season’s fixtures.

Deadline was extended to February 28 after “positive talks”.

February 16 – Administrators wrote to all interested parties, setting a deadline of February 23 for the submission of formal bids to buy the club. Any would-be buyer has until the end of that date to make a bid.

Sky Sports News has been told there are three potential buyers: former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, US-based Carlisle Group, and a consortium of local businesspeople headed by ex-Derby chairman Andy Appleby.

Administrators will then assess all bids on the table and appoint a preferred bidder before this weekend.

EFL will then reassess Derby’s business plan before Monday’s deadline, and if satisfied they have enough cash to complete the season, should lift their ban on new player registrations.

Derby manager Wayne Rooney would then be free to sign new players, who are currently out of contract.

This sort of brinkmanship is to be expected from the three parties interested in buying Derby, with each likely to submit their bids at the last minute to avoid any confidential figures being leaked to their rivals.

Former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is competing with the US-based Carlisle group and a consortium of local business people headed by former chairman Andy Appleby.

Derby have been in administration since September, leading to a total deduction of 21 points.

Wayne Rooney’s side play Millwall at Pride Park on Wednesday night, and are now eight points from safety in the Championship following Reading’s victory over Birmingham on Tuesday.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby and Peterborough

Derby close to agreement with Boro

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Former Derby owner Mel Morris issued a statement earlier this month which included an invitation to Middlesbrough and Wycombe to take up their claims against him personally

Earlier this month, Derby announced that an agreement between their former owner Mel Morris and Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson in relation to the ongoing legal case between the clubs is close.

The sale of Derby to new ownership has been complicated in part by the compensation claims of Boro and Wycombe.

Middlesbrough confirmed last month that they were suing Derby for “systematically cheating” while breaking the EFL’s financial rules in previous seasons.

Boro say that, had Derby not done so, they would have made the Championship play-offs and had the potential to earn tens of millions of pounds from promotion to the Premier League.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Derby County

Wycombe’s claim states that they would not have been relegated to League One last season had Derby not broken the rules.

Derby said details of the accord – a harmonious agreement – between Morris and Gibson had been shared with the Rams’ administrators Quantuma ahead of the sides’ meeting in the Championship on February 12, which Boro won 4-1.

The news followed the release of a lengthy statement by Morris that included an invitation to Boro and Wycombe to take up their claims against him personally at the High Court.

Morris said this would allow his old club to “move on for the benefit of the fans, the city of Derby, the sport and the EFL”.

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