Pride Park stadium

Derby County’s Championship season has been branded “disastrous'” and there are calls for the club to try harder as the city of Derby’s football team as they face the third tier for the first time in nearly 40 years.

One supporter, Fraser Mundie, who use to travel home and away to watch his club, said: “I don’t know if I want to pay all my money to support a club in League One.

“I know my loss of income will be bad for the club and the city but that’s life. I’ve just lost my job. I’d rather save up for a holiday than watch Derby versus Accrington Stanley.’

“It’s Devastating for the city. The CLub’s in a mess.”

Euan Elder, Season ticket holder

On the streets of Derby, fans are on tenterhooks. Euan Elder, a lifelong season ticket holder has been unable to watch in 2020-21 due to the matches being played behind closed doors.

He said: “It’s devastating for the city. Disastrous even. It’s a lot of people’s livelihoods going to the football every weekend. The club’s just in a mess on and off the field.

Brian Clough managed Derby County from 1967-73

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around the club at the moment. I know people who work for the club and they’re not sure that they’ll be able to keep their jobs if we go down.”

In August 2020 it was revealed that the financial impact of coronavirus on Derby was already at £5.9 million due to the nature of having all games without fans.

The economic effect of going down to League One, football’s third tier, would have a major impact on the rest of the city’s revenue.

It was Derby County’s most successful manager, Brian Clough, who famously said that Derby was a footballing town. It is evident among the people you speak to.

Jacob Cran, 20, said: “I personally am not a Derby fan but seeing the struggles and poor results is very worrying and I think it will have a larger effect on the city as a whole due to the economic benefit from being in a higher league.

‘It will bring the general mood of the city down after an already challenging enough year.”

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney said after Derby’s 2-1 defeat to Birmingham on April 24 suggested all hope was not lost. “The only positive is that both Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham lost. Now we have to focus on Swansea and a tough game against them.

“We have to do our job. We are capable of winning, so we must believe we can.”

People of all ages far and wide across the city are united in hoping Derby avoid the drop. Betty Briggs, 91, is fearful for the future.

“They’ve got to alter their ways. They have to try a bit harder. Rooney’s not very experienced. He doesn’t seem bothered.

“It used to be all Derby back years ago. They need Cloughie back again, he’d send them up! They just have to hope for the best.”

Four points off the bottom three with two games to play, however, games in hand for Rotherham, who sit a place below them, ensure it is the Millers who gain the advantage heading into the final few matches.

Derby’s remaining fixtures are against fifth-placed Swansea on Saturday, May 1 at 3pm and 23rd placed Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, May 8 at 12.30pm. Both are must win games for Wayne Rooney’s side.

The first has already been selected for Sky Sports coverage, with the latter almost certain to be in what could very possibly turn into a “winner-stays-up” box office match between two of the biggest teams in the Championship.

How Derby County can get relegated this season:

  • If Rotherham pick up 10 points out of a possible 12 in their final four games, Derby get relegated no matter their results.
  • If Sheffield Wednesday win their game against Nottingham Forest and beat Derby on the last day of the season they will relegate Derby unless the Rams win at Swansea.

Key Relegation Fixtures:

  • 27 April: Brentford v Rotherham United 7pm
  • 1 May: Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest 12.30pm
  • 1 May: Swansea City v Derby County 3pm
  • 1 May: Rotherham United v Blackburn Rovers 3pm
  • 4 May: Luton Town v Rotherham United 7pm
  • 8 May: Cardiff City v Rotherham United 12.30pm
  • 8 May: Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday 12.30pm

AUDIO: Jacob Cran, 20, discusses the impact from a non-Derby supporter perspective of relegation on the city as a whole