Doncaster Rovers: Part four of our Q&A with CEO Gavin Baldwin talking long term vision, outside investment, club finances and transfer money

After an unsettled few years with the departures of managers and a large turnover of players, the long term picture for Doncaster Rovers is an intriguing one.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 12:00 pm
Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin

In the final part of our Q&A with chief executive Gavin Baldwin, he addresses the vision for the club both on and off the pitch, discusses the possibility of outside investment or even the sale of the club, reveals the current financial position and touches on the direction of transfer monies received.

WHAT IS THE LONG TERM VISION, ON AND OFF THE PITCH?

“Basically it is for the club to break even, the playing budget to increase every year and to get into a position where we regularly have a chance of getting into the play-offs and being promoted to the Championship.

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“Next year, using all the indicators available to us, we should have a very firm top half budget which would give us a good chance with a good season.

“The year after that, obviously not knowing where other clubs are going to be, using the indicators again, we’ll have a really good budget.

“It’s very clear for Club Doncaster to keep performing better and to keep putting more and more money into the playing budget to give us the best chance of promotion.

“That’s not something that is 20 years away, it has already started

“We’re never going to have a top two budget.

“We can say that we want to be a Championship club but when we get there we want to be Championship-ready.

“We’ve made infrastructure improvements at Cantley Park, we’re increasing the recruitment staff and making better the tools available to them, we are improving our medical support, we are investing in the Academy.

“We’re building and building to make us stronger but probably most important is that the playing budget is increasing to give us a chance.”

ARE THE OWNERS OPEN TO OUTSIDE INVESTMENT OR WOULD THEY SELL THE CLUB?

“I don’t think that the current owners, Terry and David, would look for someone to join them.

“They don’t need to.

“But Terry and David have always said that if someone better comes along, his door is open and we will have a sensible conversation with them.

“Despite what people may think, there is not a queue of people seriously looking to buy football clubs.

“We are actively looking at improving our commercial deals and the right ones can almost be like a new investor coming in.

“I think Terry and David would rather us improve commercially than bring someone else in because they’ve worked together all their lives, they know how each other work.

“I’m not sure bringing someone in from the outside would sit comfortably.

“As for the club changing hands, Terry has always said that if someone better comes along, with a better vision and can fund that vision, the door is open.”

WHAT IS THE CURRENT FINANCIAL POSITION OF THE CLUB, PARTICULARLY WITH THE HMRC DEBT?

“We’re paying all our debts on an ongoing basis.

“Before signing the extra three players, we were break even.

“Next year we won’t be paying off those debts but we will be generating at least the same revenues so that is where there is real potential for the playing budget to improve.

“This is a watershed year. We can get rid of the debts, benefit from the revenues we are generating and give Doncaster Rovers a chance every year of doing well.

“The whole business model is Club Doncaster - the car boot, the soccer centre, tenants in the stadium, events etc - works really hard and that funds the playing budgets and goes straight into trying to bring in better players.

“The profits from the stadium, use of facilities etc, goes straight into funding Rovers.

“Every year there is a plan for the budget to go up. Every year Club Doncaster is performing better so the budget will improve.

“But say it has a bad year, the owners are always there as a backstop to say we’re not going to let you fail.

“Terry and David are there to steer us and if anything starts to go wrong, they’ll be there.

“Ultimately, their vision has been to guide us to have a company that can stand on its own two feet. The skills and the business acumen of Terry and David has been to guide us to that stage so we don’t need the owner funding and if it is there, it’s a pleasure rather than a chore.

“Terry said he used to put money in and never knew whether it was going to pay for the electricity or to pay a player.

“Now, it’s really clear. We go to the board and say we want to bring in Player A, it’ll cost this, there’s a risk of this. Are you able to cover it if that risk comes true?”

WHERE DID THE FUNDS FROM THE SALES OF JOHN MARQUIS AND BEN WHITEMAN AND THE DEPARTURE OF DARREN MOORE GO?

“The academy, infrastructure, surviving Covid and the January transfer window - and not all of the money is in yet for some of them.

“For example, the fee for Ben is spread over a number of years so there are funds still to come. And they will help to boost the playing budget.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.