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Belles

An update from the Club Doncaster chief executive

30 April 2020

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An update from Gavin Baldwin the Club Doncaster chief executive...

As we come out of our first full month of lockdown, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced a month like it during all my time as chief executive of Club Doncaster.

We have always taken great pride in ensuring our stadium is a welcoming environment for all visitors, whether that be football supporters, rugby supporters, concert goers, the business community or households visiting for leisure reasons and to not have any kind of activity taking place at the stadium is a surreal experience. 

I, like all of you, cannot wait until we are back to normal but we must be patient and wait until we are told it is safe to do so.  We are liaising daily with the EFL, RFL and others about their plans for resolving the current season and the timescales they are operating to.  I know the representative bodies are speaking to the Government regularly but this is an ever-changing situation and, while we all long for the return of sport to our lives, we must not rush to make decisions that have a risk of endangering any member of the public.  I am already aware of supporters who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and we don’t want any more families to suffer.

Most staff at Club Doncaster have now been furloughed and for a club of our size that makes sense. We do not have the riches of some of the other football clubs at our disposal and, while we have always tried to safeguard the club by spreading our revenue across different sources that are not just limited to ticketing and sponsorships, those other sources have also been severely impacted by the pandemic.  Our car boot markets, stadium events, pitch bookings, office and car park leases, and discount card/book schemes have all seen revenue plummet to an all-time low. We are incredibly grateful therefore to those that have been able to support the club during the last few weeks through purchasing season tickets or lottery subscriptions, these wonderful gestures are enabling us to keep cash coming into the business and allowing us to top up salaries to their full amount. 

Those staff who aren’t furloughed are working hard to try and safeguard the future of the club and identify any possible revenue streams we can.  Commercially we’re ensuring we’re still in contact with all our partners to see how we can support them and operationally we’re trying to use this time effectively, looking at how we can improve the infrastructure at the club to make us a more efficient organisation.  Meanwhile, the chairman and I have been working with the finance director to plan for every eventuality, including the possibility of no football for the remainder of the calendar year. While we hope and pray that this is not the case, if we can plan for a worst case scenario anything else will be an improvement.

I must once again put my thanks on record to our Doncaster Rovers supporters clubs, both the main branch and Retford branch have donated a combined £9,000 to the club this month. This amazing gesture has genuinely made staff members emotional and it is so humbling to know that with everything that is going on, our supporters continue to act so wonderfully towards the club. 

You may have seen our online auction of once in a lifetime experiences that is currently active, the auction is helping to raise valuable funds for both us, the NHS and other charities. There is still a week left on the auction and some opportunities up for grabs so if you are in a position to do so then please consider placing a bid.

I hope this update finds you safe and well. Please continue to follow the Government advice and I look forward to once again sharing our stadium with you all.

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