Gavin Baldwin offers insight into new playing budget as coronavirus crisis bites at Doncaster Rovers

Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Moore will operate with a reduced playing budget for next season as the club reacts to the Covid-19 crisis.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 18th June 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 10:59 am

But chief executive Gavin Baldwin insists Rovers’ League One rivals will be doing exactly the same.

And he says each piece of positive news regarding the 2020/21 campaign will mean potential increases in Moore’s playing budget.

With no date yet decided upon for the start of next season and no clarity available on when supporters will be allowed back into stadiums, planning with any real certainty has been difficult for Baldwin and his colleagues.

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Darren Moore

“For the last few weeks we’ve been planning for every eventuality," he told the Free Press.

"A season without fans in attendance, a season with fans only from January, a season with fans from September but with reduced crowds due to social distancing, literally 100 different scenarios.

“The staff who haven’t been furloughed have been working really hard trying to find creative ways we can generate revenue through lockdown and with a stadium without fans.

“I have an open relationship with a number of chief executives in the league that I get on really well with, and genuinely we try to help each other.

“From what I know, the work we have done over the past few months to generate funds has put us in a better position than many other clubs

"So while out budget will be less, it will be relatively less, with the other clubs in the division that are also hurting.”

Moore met with Baldwin and Rovers chairman David Blunt on Wednesday to discuss details of the budget.

A ‘base’ figure was agreed, based wholly on financial certainties known to the club in this difficult time.

Baldwin said: “We don’t know when fans will be allowed back in the stadium, we don’t know how many supporters will want a refund on tickets they haven’t been able to use or how many will be in a position to make it to a donation to the club instead.

“The return of Premier League and Championship football is great but for many it will cloud the stark reality that are facing lower division clubs this summer, where simply survival is the main objective

“We want to make sure we have a club in 12 months time. We will plan a budget based on the few financial certainties we have and then improve it as we get positive news.

“We will talk about what the playing budget could look like and therefore look at contracts going forward and whether we can press buttons on things now, even in these uncertain times.

“Due to the commitment of the owners, the generosity we have already seen from our supporters and the hard work of staff over the past few weeks supported by the players' wage deferral, we’ve got an indicative playing budget for next season which means we can start making decisions on players’ contracts.

"I know many clubs who aren’t even in this position.

“As we gain more knowledge about the start of next season and when fans can return, that budget will hopefully grow and improve.

“But at least we have got some certainty now and we can start to make some decisions from Wednesday and fans will start to see things happening as we build towards next season.

“What we are working from is based on what we know now.

"It makes sense to plan around a worst case scenario rather than be surprised by bad news, so we’re basing our budget on having to give out refunds and no ticket sales for the majority of the season.

“But there is talk of the possibility of crowds coming back in September and if that was to happen then it would boost the cash flow and it would lead to another conversation where we can improve what we’re working with.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the trigger point for Moore to hold talks with players that will reach the end of their current contracts on June 30.

Conversations have already taken place with nine players from Rovers’ U23s group but Moore will now spring to action regarding the futures of five senior players.

With the EFL suggesting a £200m hole for lower league clubs and the real threat of some going out of business, it is clear flexibility will likely be required from players during negotiations over new deals as the reality of the current situation takes hold.

While Moore has been handed his baseline playing budget, he will have the opportunity to free up funds from elsewhere in order to boost it.

“We treat Darren like we have our other managers and tell him what is available and then Darren has the flexibility to reduce the travel and accommodation costs for example to boost the playing budget,” Baldwin said.

“There will always be the flexibility to prioritise where money is spent.”

Despite the uncertainty Baldwin believes there is every reason to be positive about the club’s prospects heading into next season and is confident even the base budget will allow Moore to build a strong squad on the foundations he already has.

He said: “Contracted next year already, we’ve got a back four that is one of the best in the league, plus then we've got Ben Whiteman, Jon Taylor and Fejiri Okenabirhie.

“We’ve already got the basis of a really good team and some exciting younger prospects.

“And if we can use the budget that we know we have got to boost that, and we can potentially release money as we get more information, we should be genuinely excited about our future next season.”

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