Here, in his latest monthly column reflecting on the news over the past month, our Press and PR Executive Robin Johnson looks at the headlines.
Many of us will know that famous piece of commentary by Kenneth Wolstenholme from the 1966 World Cup Final when Geoff Hurst smashed in the goal that confirmed England’s victory.
“They think it’s all over, it is now!”
Well, when it comes to Derby County it isn’t over – not by a long chalk.
Of course, the plight of the Rams – facing expulsion from the league and potential liquidation – dominated the news throughout January.
As a lifelong Derby County supporter, I, like many fellow Rams fans, have found the last few weeks extremely stressful and traumatic.
The battle to save Derby (like that aforementioned World Cup Final) has now gone into extra time, with the EFL agreeing to give the club’s administrators until early March to get its house in order and get a sale over the line.
The crisis at Derby escalated rapidly on that fateful Friday, when the EFL set the club an initial deadline of 1 February to prove it had enough funds to play out the rest of the season, with a potential takeover hanging in the balance due to outstanding claims by Middlesbrough and Wycombe.
The city’s response was equally rapid. On the following Monday morning, I was putting together a press release about the formation of Team Derby – an alliance of civic, political, cultural and business leaders, which includes ourselves, Marketing Derby, to put pressure on the EFL to remove the obstacles blocking the sale of the Rams. (Read the full story here.)
By the evening, I saw a sports reporter on the ITV news waving that press release around while on air.
Meetings then quickly followed between Team Derby, Quantuma (the administrators) and the EFL.
Derby’s plight was raised in Parliament and a petition calling for the Sports Minister to intervene attracted 60,000 signatures in a matter of days.
The reaction and speed of mobilisation by the city and its people (from all quarters, not just Derby County fans) has been impressive.
The pride shown for the club and the city as a whole moving.
The support nationwide (including from fans of many rival clubs I might add) humbling.
Some members of Team Derby (including myself) are veterans of the campaign a decade ago to save what was then Bombardier – and the future of British train manufacturing. We won that war.
And while we await Derby’s fate, Team Derby will continue to push and fight for the future of this historic club, a founder member of the Football League, which means so much to so many. That’s a promise.
Anyway, believe it or not, there was some other news in January – which I’m happy to say was much more positive.
Derby County, of course, is an intrinsic part of the city’s culture.
And this week, Derby (the city) submitted its formal bid in the competition to be named UK City of Culture 2025.
Throughout January, we ran numerous stories supporting and raising awareness of the bid – we even put our money where our mouth is, like many other businesses and organisations, pledging cash and in-kind support. (Read the full story here.)
Reaching the longlist of eight was a tremendous achievement by the city – and fingers crossed our journey through the competition continues.
The bid has massive backing from the city, with numerous Bondholders lending their support. (Read the full story here.)
Those backing the bid include Hollywood film star and Alvaston lad Jack O’Connell. (Read the full story here.)
Jack is a huge advocate for the city – and having him on board is a tremendous boost to our cause.
Speaking of winners (far be it for me to influence the City of Culture judges), in January, Marketing Derby announced the winner of its annual Rising Star competition, which aims to give up and coming entrepreneurs a helping hand. (Read the full story here.)
The winning business was So Good Kombucha, a healthy drinks business founded by Lesley So.
The drinks she makes sound delicious and I’m looking forward to trying some soon.
I’m also looking forward to hearing more about Lesley’s business when she speaks in the Dare to Dream slot at our forthcoming Annual Business Event later this month.
As any journalist will tell you, January is normally a bit of a slow month for business news. Derby must be the exception to the rule, particularly our commercial property market.
We reported on plans by Ivygrove Developments to create a new business park – called Merlin Park – on the site of the former Rolls-Royce Light Alloys Foundry, in Osmaston Road.(Read the full story here.)
Finally, an institution that continues to go from strength-to-strength is the University of Derby.
Last month, plans backed by the university and Derby College Group to create a new £13 million East Midlands Institute of Technology (IoT) were given the go-ahead by the Government. (Read the full story here.)
The IoT will create the highly advanced workforce needed to lead the digital revolution. Hopefully, one of them will be able to show me how Instagram works.
And there was success for the university on a personal level, with its vice-chancellor and chief executive Professor Kathryn Mitchell made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2022 New Year honours list for her services to education. (Read the full story here.)
I can only think that mine got lost in the post.
Anyway, have a safe and productive February and I look forward to catching up again next month when, hopefully, we will have some better news about Derby County. Up the Rams!