DONCASTER ROVERS: Sporting Club to transform sport in Doncaster

ONE FOR ALL: Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin has big plans for the Keepmoat tenants and beyond as part of his sporting club model.
ONE FOR ALL: Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin has big plans for the Keepmoat tenants and beyond as part of his sporting club model.

DONCASTER Rovers are adopting an “all for one, one for all” approach under forward-thinking chief executive Gavin Baldwin, writes Paul Goodwin.

The Free Press can reveal just how close Rovers are prepared to work with Doncaster RLFC to bring top flight rugby league to the town.

But Baldwin’s ‘Sporting Club’ model is quickly spreading its wings much further, with american football, handball, futsal, boccia and a local league football team already on board.

Doncaster Rovers Belles also got their moment in the Sporting Club spotlight with the first Keepmoat Stadium double-header last month, featuring Rovers’ women’s team and their male counterparts.

The event is a sign of things to come in a new era for sport in Doncaster.

Baldwin said: “Unfortunately Rovers lost to a late goal so I don’t know whether that had any effect on the attendance at the Belles (327).

“However there were 100 fans more than normal attend the women’s game and Belles regarded it as a total success.

“Obviously they’d like more people to stay behind.

“But from our point of view, operationally, things went really well.

“Double-headers like that need to become a culture and a thing that happens regularly so that people build it into their diaries.

“If we just do it as a one-off it’ll never work.

“We want to do a similar thing with our youth team and get them out there on the first team pitch.

“And we’re talking to the Dons about how we can work with them and the scheduling of their fixtures.

“It’s all added value for our fans,” he added.

“One thing we are committed to is joint tickets.

“Say, for instance, the Dons are playing on the Friday night and Rovers on the Saturday, we’ll offer a joint ticket for both games.

“We’re also looking at joint season tickets for next year, whereby for a small increase you’d get the ability to come to both sets of games.”

Rovers’ Community Foundation are currently working closely with the junior section of american football outfit Doncaster Mustangs, while Rovers now also boast boccia, futsal and handball teams.

Doncaster Senior League side Highwayman FC were also welcomed under the Sporting Club umbrella this summer, subsequently changing their name to Rovers Foundation FC.

The exercise is one designed to catapult the ‘Doncaster Rovers brand’ to a much wider audience.

Baldwin said: “We’re hoping the Dons’ second kit next season will be the red and white hoops, as an overt show of support for what we’re doing here and a sign that we’re working together.

“Obviously Rovers and Belles already wear red and white hoops and it’d be great to get the Dons on board too.

“It’s all part of the branding. It makes it easier to brand the stadium, and it’s easier for the fans in a way too.

“But it also gives Doncaster an identity.

“If we can get all the clubs wearing red and white hoops that’s Doncaster’s identity.

“It helps to spread the word and hopefully gives the fans and people of Doncaster something to be proud of.”