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American owners of English football club Derby sell to businessman behind 'Candy Crush' game

DERBY, England – Derby’s North American owners have sold the English second-tier club to a local businessman who made a fortune through the “Candy Crush Saga” mobile game.

Former Detroit Pistons executive Andy Appleby fronted the takeover seven years ago by a group of Americans and Canadians, including investors in baseball, basketball and hockey franchises.

Within months of their takeover, Derby was relegated from the Premier League and the team has stayed in the Championship since 2008.

Now life-long Derby fan Mel Morris, who bought a 22 per cent stake in the team earlier this year, has become the sole owner. Morris stepped down last year as chairman of King Digital, the New York Stock Exchange-listed company which created “Candy Crush.”

Morris bought the rest of the team from North American Derby Partners LP, which includes Canadians W. Brett Wilson and Jeff Mallett.

Wilson owns a piece of the Nashville Predators and was formerly on “Dragons’ Den.” Mallet, former Yahoo! president, is co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps and principal partner of the San Francisco Giants.

“Delighted to have been 1 of 2 Canucks who played key roles in the rebirth of @dcfcofficial — the club is in good hands now — at all levels,” Wilson tweeted.

The annual “Rich List” published by the London-based Sunday Times estimates that Morris is worth 400 million pounds ($610 million).

Five Premier League teams are owned by Americans: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester United and Sunderland.

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With files from The Canadian Press