Manager Wayne Rooney has pointed the finger at former Derby owner Mel Morris after the club’s relegation to the third tier was confirmed.
The former English champions, who were penalised 21 points for financial infringements, can no longer avoid the drop following Monday’s defeat at Queen’s Park Rangers.
Derby have played most of the season in the shadow of possible liquidation and Rooney believes Morris, who made his fortune from mobile game Candy Crush before presiding over their slide into administration, should feel guilty.
“Hopefully he doesn’t have a good night’s sleep tonight and that plays on his mind. I think he needs to have a think about it,” said Rooney.
“Where the club’s been left, it was a complete mess. I know Mel Morris is a big Derby fan, so I’m sure he’s sat at home tonight disappointed.
“We are disappointed as we’ve done everything we can to try and not let this happen and worked extremely hard.”
In Rooney’s first managerial position he rallied Derby for a seemingly lost cause and won plaudits for coming so close to avoiding relegation.
England’s all-time record goalscorer plans to stay on at the East Midlands club and lead their bid for an immediate return to the Championship next season, but only if prospective buyer Chris Kirchner completes his takeover.
“I know what players I want to bring in in League One and I need to be able to get that moving quickly to make sure we have the best chance of coming straight back up,” he said.
“I’m excited to get my teeth into it and bring in players I want, try to develop them and try to be a successful team. I want to rebuild this club. But the takeover has to happen.”