Latest News | 22 March 2023

The reluctant hero who brought Rams back from the brink

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In the latest edition of Marketing Derby’s Innovate magazine, we have an exclusive interview with David Clowes, the man who stepped in to save Derby County.

A year ago, the Rams were facing an uncertain future until David, the boss of property giant Clowes Developments, stepped in to buy the club – and Pride Park Stadium.

As David explains to Innovate, his motivation to purchase Derby County was not driven by the publicity that comes with being the owner of one of the country’s oldest football club’s  – but simply the love he had for a team he has supported since he was a young boy.

David recalls how he was allowed to stay up late on Saturday nights to watch Match of the Day and, if the team he idolised, Derby County, featured, he would write his own reports of the games – decades later he still has those reports, as well as an extensive collection of Rams football programmes.

For years, David was just happy to take his place in the stands with his fellow Rams supporters and cheer on the team – both home and away.

He told Innovate: “I had no ambitions to become a football owner. I was asked two or three years ago but I always said that I would leave it to others. I was happy in the stands watching matches. It was a release.”

That was until last year, when the club was plunged into crisis and it looked like David would have no club support.

It was after taking part in a protest march of more than 10,000 Rams supporters that he seriously began to question what would happen to his beloved Derby County.

He told Innovate: “I had been on the fans’ march in January, when we played Birmingham City, and I was getting hacked off and thinking something has got to happen here. We’d had promises that we were going to be taken over the previous December.”

David held discussions with John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby and a part of the Team Derby group, which had been formed by concerned members of the civic and business communities to help the club’s administrators facilitate a successful takeover after a series of would-be buyers failed to deliver a rescue package.

David reveals to Innovate the events that led up to him signing on the dotted line for the Rams – and the feeling it gave him to own the football club he had supported all of his life.

He said: “Another week and the club would have gone. I just can’t image Derby without a football club. The history … a footballing town, two league championships, an FA Cup, Clough and Taylor!

“Not long after I bought the club, I was watching old footage on YouTube and it hit me. The emotion. This would probably have all been null and void if the club had gone. It’s enormous. It really is.”

Now, David and his team are working hard to rebuild Derby County – both on the pitch and off of it.

He stresses it is a “long-term plan”. However, things already appear to be going in the right direction, with the Rams currently vying for promotion from League One.

In the Innovate feature, he expresses his gratitude – to the playing staff and management, the people who work behind the scenes, the businesses who have stood by the club and last but not least the incredible Rams supporters.

He said: “Of course, we want to be successful – but we want to do this in the right way.

“If we got the club to the Premier League, that would be a success. If we could win silverware, if I was a part of that, it would be huge.”

To read the interview with David in full visit here.

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