Takeover of Doncaster Rovers Belles agreed with Club Doncaster

Doncaster Rovers Belles have seen their future secured ‘for years to come’ after the long-mooted takeover by Club Doncaster was finally agreed.

By Liam Hoden
Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 1:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 1:38 pm
Club Doncaster
Club Doncaster

Club Doncaster have confirmed the takeover will be finalised in May with the Belles set to celebrate their 50th anniversary later this year.

Officials from Club Doncaster – of which Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster RFLC are key components – opened talks with Belles last year over means by which the organisation could assist the historic women’s football club.

Discussions progressed quickly and by October the details of a potential takeover were being debated, with talks continuing periodically over the proceeding months.

Outgoing Belles chair Faye Lygo felt the takeover was a necessary step to secure the club’s future.

“I have really enjoyed being a custodian of this fantastic team over the past few years, but feel, for the Belles to progress, we need to make this change,” Lygo said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Doncaster Rovers Belles and a move that will help secure the future of the club for years to come.

“We look forward to seeing the progression the Belles will make as part of Club Doncaster.”

The Belles will become part of Club Doncaster in the same manner as the Dons. A new position of Belles chief executive has been advertised, mimicking the Dons’ organisational structure headed by Carl Hall.

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

Like the Dons, the Belles will have a playing budget separate and independent from that of Rovers and will also play their matches at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Football-related administration for the Belles will be carried out by the new chief executive rather than being absorbed by existing Rovers staff.

It is understood Belles officials Sheila Edmunds and Julie Chipchase will continue to be part of the club following the takeover.

Club Doncaster chief executive Gavin Baldwin said: “We are delighted to have the Belles on board.

“They are one of the most successful women’s football teams in England and are an excellent addition to the Club Doncaster family. 

“We are looking forward to celebrating their golden anniversary and already have some exciting plans once they join the family in May.

“We will be sharing more in the near future.”

The Belles have four games to go in the current FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division campaign.

It has proved to be a season of struggle following voluntary demotion to the third tier of English women’s football, with the Belles sitting second bottom of the table with three wins and five draws from 20 matches.

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

Baldwin told the Free Press in October that he felt Club Doncaster was missing something without the Belles as part of it.

He 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.”

The Belles return to action this weekend with a trip to bottom side Bradford City Women, who are yet to pick up a point so far this season.