Finances, furlough and the future - Your Doncaster Rovers questions answered

Has there ever been more uncertainty surrounding football as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact upon the game?

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 5:35 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 5:35 pm
Darren Moore

Here, our Doncaster Rovers writer Liam Hoden addresses a selection of supporter questions on all manner of topics at the club in these most troubled of times.

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Doncaster Rovers Q&A

Last updated: Friday, 03 April, 2020, 17:24

  • Rovers reporter Liam Hoden answers your questions

This is probably the single biggest issue in determining whether the current season will be finished. Talks have been ongoing between organising bodies and player unions to try to come up with a solution. It seems most sensible to me that contracts will be extended for as long as the season takes to be finished.

However, that would need to be agreed and ratified in the most strict legal terms to avoid anyone on either side of any contract from manipulating the situation. And it is probably going to take a show of good will from all involved to get it done.

The best way it seems to ensure it runs smoothly is to ban player registrations until the season has ended plus tie clubs into honouring contracts through an extension period.

A very scary thought but it remains a possibility as long as the uncertainty over whether this season will continue goes on. Either way, I would very much doubt that we've seen the last of Coppinger on the Keepmoat pitch but the question will be whether that is in competitive action or something less formal.

Ultimately, I think this situation lies more with the club and Darren Moore than Copps himself. While he told me earlier this week that he has had more reason to doubt the future of his career recently due to his lack of game time, he did sign off by saying he would be delighted if something was there for him - meaning a contract.

A reasonable contract offer would be the sign that Coppinger remained in Moore's plans - though I don't think he would particularly fancy sitting on the bench week in, week out.

I'm not entirely sure how serious a question this is, given the Twitter name, but I think it is a point worth discussing either way.

A headline figure of the loss of millions of pounds is always going to raise eyebrows. And while it is a fact of life in football, it really ought not to be that way.

It seems strange to say that a £1.85million loss is not so severe - but relatively in the game it is not. It is also pretty easy to explain.

Rovers could sustain themselves in League One and break even at the end of the financial year. The creation of Club Doncaster and the diversification into other revenue areas such as renting office space, car parking and pitches, has helped in this area.

However, in order to make them competitive towards the top end of the division, the playing budget has been increased which ensures the company runs at a loss. That loss is covered by the owners, who have made the decision to increase the playing budget.

So, every year until the policy changes, the club will continue to lose money. But in reality, it is the owners who are losing those funds.

Would additional investment help? It would perhaps allow Rovers to extend the playing budget but in balance sheet terms, the club would be losing more money.

It is fair to say everything along those lines is now on hold with players and staff furloughed.

The decision-making process in regards to the future of individual players at that level was already under way before the shutdown of the game so coaches will have a good idea over which direction they will be going after this season.

What will be interesting will be to see the fate of the competitions at age group level for this season. The priority will undoubtedly to get first team football completed and that may see the age groups fall by the wayside.

Who knows what the transfer market will look like once we get beyond this current crisis.

But 'going big' is not something you are likely to see under the current regime at Rovers - and that is by their own admission.

The club is run within its means and will continue to be, with the owners making additional funds available to boost the playing budget.

You also have a man in charge of the team whose desire it is to forge a young, hungry group that will grow and develop together. Busting the bank does not really fit that vision.

I think you're likely to see signings similar to that of Fejiri Okenabirhie - players who are still young but have shown their potential already. And you are definitely going to see further dives into the loan market for players similar to Jacob Ramsey.

The possibility of this was suggested at the start of the season when he joined on loan. Perhaps a 'try before you buy' style situation.

But it is worth considering that John attracted plenty of attention in the first half of the season when he was performing so well for Rovers.

The ball remains very much in his own court on that one.

You'll have seen the updates from the EFL between you asking this question and me answering it.

I think it's been clear for some time that restarting the game in the immediate future was not going to be a possibility and that it is going to be several months yet before we are up and running.

The decision to put staff into furlough will not be one that the club hierarchy has taken lightly - hence why they did not do it straight away. Nor did they necessarily need to act as swiftly as some other clubs did.

What we're in now is a period of massive uncertainty, particularly when it comes to when clubs might get their next source of income. Even when football is restarted, who knows whether it will be played behind closed doors and what revenue clubs could expect in that scenario.

Clubs are consulting over matters such as FFP but I'll admit I don't know exactly what the feeling is over that.

Surely it is not reasonable for there to be no leeway given over FFP for this season. You would like to think so any way. Losses are going to be much, much greater than normal.

On your second question, it has certainly helped. There has been no gambling of the family silver at the club for a long time and that means they are much more resolute than plenty of others.

Creating other revenue streams since taking over the lease of the stadium has been huge in creating financial stability for the club. It also meant that income did not dry up quickly after the shutdown of football.

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