Club Doncaster: Five-year plan sets out Championship and Super League targets for Rovers and Dons

Keepmoat Stadium. Photo: The FA/The FA via Getty Images
Keepmoat Stadium. Photo: The FA/The FA via Getty Images
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Club Doncaster chiefs have set out a five-year plan targeting two promotions for both Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster RLFC.

Dons chief executive Carl Hall has spoken publicly about the plan in an interview with Rugby League World magazine.

Within those plans, Hall says the target is for Rovers to be back in the Championship and the Dons to reach Super League by 2022.

Rovers, after the disappointment of suffering relegation three times since 2012, start the new year on top of League Two and on course for an instant return to League One.

Boss Darren Ferguson this week reinforced his squad with the signing of non-league hot shot Alfie May and also persuaded Everton midfielder Conor Grant to return to the Keepmoat Stadium on loan until the end of the season.

Dons finished fourth in League One last season following their surprise relegation from the Championship in 2015.

Head coach Gary Thornton has been given a bigger playing budget for the 2017 season as part of a concerted push for promotion.

Former Great Britain star Jamie Thackray and ex-New Zealand international Iafeta Palea’aesina are among this winter’s new arrivals.

“We’ve got a five-year plan and part of that is for us to be in Super League and Doncaster Rovers Football Club to be in the Championship,” Hall told Rugby League World.

“I’ve bought into it, though I had opportunities to go to Super League clubs, but I’ve nailed my colours to the mast and it would kill me if I went anywhere else.

“The training ground is going to be a big part of the plans going forward,” he added.

“I probably took it as far as I could and hopefully now they [the owners] can take us where we want to be.”

The Dons became part of Club Doncaster when they were taken over by Doncaster Rovers in 2013.

Hall, the previous owner of the club, says they hope to go full time within two to three years - part of a gradual process of building the club up from the bottom.

“The club was in a terrible state when we took over,” he said.

“There were a couple of fellas who won the league, got promoted then left and they’re still great blokes and they still support the club now but after them the club went into administration three times in 16 months.

“Since we started we’ve never not paid a bill or the players and we’re starting to get a really good reputation as a club and that’s all we want.

“Regardless of the league you’re in if you get that reputation and you’re sustainable then you can build from there. The hard part was when they were doing what other clubs are doing where they spend more than they have.

“We’ve got owners who could give us that money, but what happens if they left? We’d be b******d.

“They could give me a million pounds today and we’d get promoted, but I’d tell them to keep it and we’ll build it. We could have some fun for a year but that’s when things go wrong.

“You need a full-time club before you have a full-time squad. We were basically a one-man band before; I was the CEO, the promotional manager, the marketing manager, everything.

“The massive help I’ve got now is the backroom team and they know that they work for Club Doncaster which involved us too.

“We’re probably close to being a Super League club off the field but we’re trying to address that on the field, hence the reason why the Fecka’s and Thackray’s and all these other big names are coming in.

“When we won the league we were at a level, a sociable good hard working group, we need to go above that level now. Hence the reason we had a 20 player turnover last year to get to that next level.

“We’re hoping in another two or three years to go full-time and that will make a massive difference and that’s the middle point of the five year plan,” he added.

“If we had got out of this league last year it would have accelerated everything by two years, so the big challenge is to get out of this division and then we can flourish and our five year plan can get moving.

“Now that Leigh have done what they have done it gives the fans confidence in us and the system that it can happen.

“I was praying for Leigh to get into Super League because I can turn around to my owners and show them that it can be done.

“Why would they go and throw their money at us if Leigh are winning the Championship and not getting anywhere?”

The Dons’ first pre-season friendly is at home to Sheffield Eagles on January 22.