An update from chief executive Gavin Baldwin on August 12.
Dear Rovers fans
It is with more optimism I write to you this month and I need to thank you all for that.
Your response to our In Rovers Supporters We Trust strategy has been overwhelming. In the past four weeks our refund liability from last season’s sales has gone from significant 6 figures to less than £30,000. While we are not out of the woods, your support in light of this pandemic has been truly magnificent.
We are still in for a difficult year, a lack of income from ticket sales is not something we can endure for long. While we are ever hopeful that we can welcome you back to Keepmoat Stadium soon we are mindful that if that cannot happen, then once again we will have a situation where we have a significant refund liability on season tickets, no ticketing income and potentially salaries to pay without the support of a furlough scheme.
The lockdown period was tough for Doncaster Rovers and Club Doncaster as a group. Although we are now able to operate our weekly car boot market and are once again taking bookings at the sports village, our core income streams have still not resurfaced. This has unfortunately meant we are having to consider changes to our staffing structure and Darren will have to be wise in how he uses the transfer market. Loan signings will be key to our squad structure next season as they offer the short term flexibility required to steer us through these difficult and uncertain times.
Darren and Adam have already began to make their moves though, with Jason Lokilo already confirmed and with other conversations progressing positively. With the salary cap agreed, we expect to be finalising negotiations soon with a handful of players. In Darren, we have one of the most resilient managers I’ve worked with and he would rather give every chance to his preferred target joining before looking at alternatives, so please be patient with news as he likes to follow his process. Sometimes, even after deals have been agreed we have to wait until the parent club completes other player transactions before we can announce too.
One thing that I know you will have been as delighted to see as I was, is that James Coppinger has signed a contract extension. I am so pleased that James stayed on for one more year, he has been a wonderful servant to this club and we can now give him the send-off he deserves. It would have been devastating for all concerned if his Doncaster Rovers career ended without celebration.
With the players now back in training, we are edging ever closer to the start of the season. With everyone in football working at breakneck speed to accomplish the equivalent of 3 months’ work in the space of just a few weeks.
Based on some of the obstacles around COVID-19 and the need to have specific bubbles as we return to training, some of our pre-season friendlies will be behind closed doors at training grounds, where we are able to have media present to report or stream these we will do, but with some of our early fixtures this may not be possible. That being said, Darren believes we have set up a good pre-season plan, with competitive games against a number of EFL sides and at least one EPL side to be confirmed too. We hope to be able to stream our final pre-season game from the stadium and are finalising those plans with both the opposition and EFL as we speak.
We are still expecting our season to start on the September 12 and league fixtures are expected to be released in around 2 to 3 weeks’ time. We know early games will be behind closed doors, alongside all the other clubs in the EFL we are in continued dialogue with the EFL about iFollow and the streaming services we can offer. They have had some great feedback based on the services they provided to Championship clubs for the end of last season and are using that to guide decision making.
Away from league matters, draws will be taking place imminently for the early rounds of the FA Cup and the League cup. The plan is still for all cup games to take place, and with the postponed Euro 2020 tournament impacting the end of the season and the start of the season delayed by five weeks, this will mean clubs will have a phenomenal amount of fixtures to fulfil in a short space of time. When football does return fully, it will be non-stop.
It has been said before but this is a difficult year for us financially and the opportunities to grow revenue are limited, we were informed this week for instance that the FA Cup prize money will be half of its usual amount. Coupled with the issues we already know about through games behind closed doors and limited capacities when fans are allowed in and you can understand why it will be a difficult year. Your continued support and patience (and I am aware we have tested both during these last few months) is invaluable.
I and everyone at the club genuinely cannot wait until we are back playing football in front of you all.
CEO, Doncaster Rovers