Private investment firm Carlisle Capital has made a formal offer to the administrators of Derby to buy the Sky Bet Championship club, the PA news agency understands.
Sources close to the firm say it has made a full asking price offer in the region of £28million.
The bid, which is understood to be spearheaded by the firm’s vice-president Adam Binnie, has been made fully in the knowledge that the club could face additional liabilities if one or both of the claims against Derby from Middlesbrough and Wycombe are successful.
It is understood the offer does not include the club’s Pride Park stadium, which is owned by former Rams chairman Mel Morris.
The group walked away after showing initial interest last year but have returned at a time when the club is facing the very real threat of liquidation, having entered administration last September.
The EFL has asked Derby’s administrators to produce a funding plan by February 1, saying in a statement on Thursday that by the administrators’ own admission, they would run out of cash by the end of the month.
The EFL has also called on the administrators to name a preferred bidder.
The claims of Middlesbrough and Wycombe – and whether they would be classed as football creditors and therefore entitled to the full value of any award arising from their legal cases – have added extra complexity to the situation at Derby, but the bid from Carlisle has been made despite that.
Derby boss Wayne Rooney is working on pulling off the greatest of great escapes on the pitch.
Despite being docked 21 points for entering administration and breaching financial regulations, the Rams are just eight points off safety heading into the Saturday lunchtime clash with bitter local rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Rooney was asked about the importance of resolving the crisis at Derby quickly.
“Derby County is much more than just a football club. It gives people in the city hope, it gives kids the right to dream, to dream of playing for their club,” he said.
“It gives young players opportunities, which we’ve seen even more so this year. It brings a lot of hope, it helps out numerous charities around the city.
“So for Derby to be in this situation is incredible really, where it’s been left, but this is where we’re at.
“Hopefully we can get the right backing and funding to make sure this club remains in the football pyramid because if not, it will be a lot of hearts broken and it’ll be a massive loss to the city.”
Rooney said he had been given assurances that no further players would leave without his say-so after the shock departures of Phil Jagielka and Graeme Shinnie last week.
He did announce that the club had agreed a fee with a Premier League club, understood to be Chelsea, for 18-year-old left-back Dylan Williams.
“It’s one where I thought I couldn’t deny him the opportunity. It’s my decision, not the administrators’ decision,” Rooney said.