The cost of playing on: The financial implications for Doncaster Rovers to complete the 2019/20 season - including pricing up Covid-19 testing

The cost of Covid-19 testing alone for Doncaster Rovers to complete the 2019/20 season has been estimated in excess of £165,000, the Free Press understands.

By Liam Hoden
Friday, 22nd May 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th May 2020, 6:55 pm
The Keepmoat Stadium, home of Doncaster Rovers
The Keepmoat Stadium, home of Doncaster Rovers

The EFL this week issued a protocol which clubs and players in the Championship must adhere to as they prepare to return to training next week following the shutdown of the game.

Such a protocol is likely to be mimicked in League One, should clubs vote to continue the campaign.

The strict guidelines involve all players and staff taking an initial test at their club’s training ground a few days prior to the official return. From then, players must test themselves at home twice a week and hand samples to medical staff on arrival at the training ground.

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The EFL have organised the testing but the clubs themselves will be required to pay for them.

It is understood that should League One clubs vote to see out the remainder of the season on the pitch, the cost of testing for Rovers would be greater than £165,000.

The 23 clubs will begin the final voting process next week over whether or not to curtail the season. The EFL will take views from clubs until Tuesday, having outlined their preferred framework for completing the season in the event of the season being curtailed.

The cost of testing will not be the only consideration for the clubs as they ponder their preference in the vote.

Rovers, like other clubs in the division, opted to place the entire playing squad and vast majority of coaching staff on furlough when it became clear competitive football would not be resuming in the immediate future.

It is estimated that with their playing budget pitched between the sixth and eighth best in the division, Rovers’ monthly wage bill possibly stands somewhere between £200,000-£250,000.

Currently, a significant portion of that bill is being covered by the government’s job retention scheme.

Having to call players back in the event of the season resuming would see Rovers liable for the full amount – minus the percentage deferred by the senior players until football is played in front of supporters. It is also understood that they would be unable to put them back on furlough at a future point.

This would come at a time when income streams have all but dried up and look unlikely to flow again for some time due to the lack of matchday revenue.

Supporters are unlikely to be allowed into stadiums for at least the remainder of 2020 as the government seeks to continue to manage the spread of Covid-19. Though it is expected that behind closed doors games would be streamed online, revenue from such a service is unlikely to come close to that of the sale of match tickets.

Conservative estimates of the amount of income a club of Rovers’ size would miss out on should the season be completed behind closed doors is in excess of £400,000.

Such figures will be weighed up by those clubs yet to fully decide upon which way to vote over the fate of the current campaign.

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