HomeBlogLeaders in DisguisePeter Marples on Derby County FC, Success & Suicide Attempt

Peter Marples on Derby County FC, Success & Suicide Attempt

In this compelling episode of “Leaders in Disguise,” Gary Parsons sits down with Peter Marples, a multi-millionaire businessman and former owner of Derby County Football Club. Peter’s journey is one of high stakes, profound lows, and ultimate resilience. His candid discussion covers business ventures, mental health, and the intricacies of leading a football club.

Peter begins by sharing the latest in his personal and business life. Despite the challenges, he remains positive and engaged with multiple ventures.

“Life’s really good. We’ve got five grandchildren now, which is a sign of old age creeping on very quickly”

He discusses his current business pursuits, which include an innovative alternative divorce service and a digital vault company aimed at securing assets.

“We set up an alternative divorce business, which is motoring really well. We’ve got a contract with the Professional Footballers’ Association, dealing with a lot of retired and some current players”

The Concept Behind Alternative Divorce

Peter’s inspiration for his alternative divorce business stemmed from his own costly and stressful divorce. He saw the need for a more streamlined, less aggressive process.

“The idea came from my divorce back in 2010. It was very expensive and stressful. I thought there has to be a different way of doing this”

His business model offers a fixed price for services, a unique approach in the legal industry, aiming to make the process more accessible and less daunting. This innovative approach has resonated well in the market, bringing a much-needed change to a traditionally adversarial process.

“Our model is fixed price, and you pay at the end. It’s not no win, no fee; it’s a fixed quote at the beginning that doesn’t change”

Building and Selling Businesses

Peter Marples - Leaders in Disguise Podcast with Gary Parsons

Peter’s career has been marked by his ability to identify opportunities, build businesses, and navigate the emotional challenges of selling them. His philosophy centres around passion and commitment rather than financial gain.

“I’ve never gotten out of bed thinking I want to make money. I want to take an idea and make it a success”

He shares a poignant story about selling his first business in 2005, which led to an unexpected mental health crisis.

“I tried to commit suicide the day after I sold my first business. I felt empty because I lost my baby, the business I put 18 hours a day into”

This revelation highlights the emotional toll that major life changes can take, even when they are perceived as successes by the outside world.

Mental Health and Resilience

Peter’s candidness about his mental health struggles provides a powerful message. He attributes his recovery to cognitive behavioural therapy and the unwavering support of his wife, Sarah.

“The therapy was all about perspective, taking one step at a time. I don’t think I would have coped in 2018 without it”

He underscores the importance of resilience and support systems, especially for entrepreneurs who often face immense pressure and isolation.

“You learn a lot about yourself when things go wrong. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and having a great support network”

Owning Derby County Football Club

One of the most notable chapters in Peter’s life was his involvement with Derby County Football Club. He fulfilled a childhood promise to his father by buying the club.

“I said to my father when I was about seven, ‘One day, Dad, I’m going to buy you the football club,’ and I did,”

Despite the challenges and eventual sale to an American consortium, Peter’s time with the club was a significant achievement. The journey was filled with memorable highs and lows, including leading the club to the Premier League within a year of purchase.

“We bought the club debt-free. A year later, we were in the Premier League. It was an entertaining journey”

This swift success came with its own set of challenges, including managing the expectations of fans and the complexities of football club ownership.

3aaa’s Apprenticeships

Peter founded 3aaa’s, a successful apprenticeship provider, which grew rapidly before its unexpected closure in 2018. The company’s model was unique, focusing on quality and narrow specialisation.

“We created 38 centres across the UK. It was a beautiful model, very commercial and easy to replicate”

The closure remains a mystery, with Peter still seeking answers.

“To this day, I have no idea why the business was closed. We never received a report or investigation”

This unresolved issue underscores the often harsh and unpredictable nature of business, where success can be fleeting and challenges can arise unexpectedly.

Current Legal Challenges

Peter is currently involved in a legal case against the Department for Education regarding a blocked sale of 3aaa’s in 2016.

“The legal case is about preventing the sale of the business. It’s been going on for 18 months, with a trial set for June 2025”

This legal battle highlights the complexities and difficulties that can arise in the business world, even for seasoned entrepreneurs. The ongoing case is a testament to Peter’s determination to seek justice and clarity.

Legacy and Future Plans

Looking ahead, Peter is focused on creating a lasting impact through foundations and initiatives aimed at supporting young people.

“I want to be a champion for justice and help young people prepare for society. Building a foundation for apprenticeships is one of my goals”

He envisions a future where his experiences and resources can be used to foster resilience and opportunities for the next generation.

“I’m working on a foundation to help young people get into apprenticeships and prepare them for the real world. It’s about giving back and making a difference”


Peter Marples’ journey is a testament to resilience, innovation, and the importance of mental health. His experiences offer valuable insights for anyone navigating the complexities of business and personal challenges. Through his candid revelations and determined efforts to make a positive impact, Peter exemplifies the power of perseverance and the significance of supporting mental wellbeing.

Listen to the full episode here:

Join the conversation and help break the stigma surrounding mental health in leadership. Share this episode with friends, family, and colleagues to spread awareness and inspire others.


A Leadership Mental Health Advocate and Inspirational Speaker, Gary works with businesses and leadership teams to break the stigma and begin prioritising their own mental health and wellbeing. Reach out today to discover how Gary can support your team in cultivating a culture of wellbeing and effective leadership.

Leadership Mental Health Advocate & Inspirational Speaker

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