Club Doncaster in ‘advanced talks’ over Doncaster Rovers Belles takeover – exclusive

The current Doncaster Rovers Belles squad
The current Doncaster Rovers Belles squad

Club Doncaster are in advanced positive talks regarding a takeover of Doncaster Rovers Belles, Gavin Baldwin has revealed.

The Belles have been involved in periodic discussions with Club Doncaster throughout 2018 over the various means by which the two organisations could operate.

Speaking exclusively to the Free Press, Club Doncaster chief executive Baldwin revealed the most recent discussions have centred on a takeover of the historic women’s football club, in the same mould as the buyout of Doncaster RLFC five years ago.

“It's a lot more positive than before,” Baldwin said.

“We’re now at the stage where we're discussing the details.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen but there is a clear direction of travel here.”

Club Doncaster are currently exploring possible measures to improve the fortunes of the Belles, who are currently struggling in the Women’s National League Northern Premier.

Suffering financial constraints, the Belles saw their squad decimated and opted to withdraw from the Women’s Championship while also switching their playing base from the Keepmoat to Rossington Main.

Boss Zoey Shaw has put together an exceptionally young squad which has struggled to find its feet in the third tier, but earned their first win of the season in beating Guiseley Vixens 4-1 on Sunday.

“We obviously only want to take them on if we make a difference positively,” Baldwin said.

“And we’re speaking to various people in women’s football at all sorts of levels to find out how we can make a difference quickly.

“This is obviously performance on the pitch, the prime driver.

“And also what we can do on an on-going basis and where we can reasonably get the Belles to.

“From the Belles’ perspective, they’ve got to make sure that we’re not bad people that they’re going to hand their club over to and we don’t treat it with the respect they deserve.

“I think we’re through all that now.

“We’re due further talks this week over the details and once we’ve agreed that then it will be the timing of it, which we’re not sure of at the moment.

“With a lot of good will, we are moving really quickly.

“And it does look extremely hopeful at the moment.”

Being part of Club Doncaster allowed the Dons to cut plenty of off-field costs with departments such as finance and marketing shared with Rovers and the various other elements of the organisation.

The Dons have a separate and independent playing budget from Rovers while Carl Hall continues to oversee the operation of the rugby league club.

Baldwin revealed discussions are progressing on agreeing the same deal for the Belles and said he believes Club Doncaster is currently missing the women’s side.

“It would be the Belles basically operating in Club Doncaster, the way the Dons do,” Baldwin said.

“From an emotional point of view, Club Doncaster would feel a lot more complete with the Belles in it.

“At the moment, it feels that it’s lacking the Belles.

“We would want to make it happen and we think we’re about there with it.”