An open letter from Gavin Baldwin to supporters dated October 26, 2020.
As always, I hope this letter finds you safe and well and that you have enjoyed our start to the season.
When I last wrote to you in September, we were optimistic of the return of fans into football stadiums, since that time a lot has changed, with pilot events halted and with South Yorkshire moving into tier 3 with increased restrictions. Frustratingly, despite now being two months into the season, we are still yet to know if there will be a rescue package for football clubs and what that will look like.
I do however want to reassure you that the difficult decisions we had to make with our staffing structure and playing budget this summer, coupled with the unbelievable generosity of our fans and the continued support or our owners, means that our immediate future is unstable rather than critical. That being said, if the current situation (no fans in stadiums) continues for much longer and without any additional support being offered, then our long term position will once again be under threat.
Having initially budgeted for no fans until January, we reviewed our budget and freed up further funds towards the end of summer for Darren, following the progress that had been made in reopening the economy and the encouragement we were being given by the Government with their roadmap of sport returning. The funds were made available with an expectation that we would have fans returning before the end of the calendar year and so without doubt this has now left us with a hole to fill.
Revenue wise, the decision not to allow fans in will hurt us by at least £200,000 through lost money from ticket sales and that’s only until January, if the decision not to allow fans to return continues beyond January it could be over £400,000 we have to find. This figure doesn’t take into account any refund requests we may now receive from supporters or partners and the risk that surrounds our planned Killers concert next May, which has been budgeted for.
Providing there are no further restrictions placed upon us within tier 3 such as being told we cannot operate our Sunday morning car boot market or that we must close the 5-a-side pitches, then the Club Doncaster business model will mean the club is not at risk of administration this financial year. Our risk will come next financial year if refund requests materialise across the club as that is a seven figure liability.
Off the field however, we have an incredibly strong and resilient team, and we have dedicated a lot of time to looking at how we can generate revenue away from football to counter the effects of no fans.
- The Purple Vouchers book for 2021 is now available and in addition to being distributed to season ticket holders, will also be made available for junior sports teams, community groups and charities as a fundraising tool. Allowing organisations to keep 25% of any monies they make through sales.
- Our DNA Card portal has also gone under some changes during the last few months. All the major supermarkets are now back on the system, providing the opportunity for card holders to save on their weekly shop. Almost every major high street retailer has an offer on the portal too, so there are some significant savings to be had in the run up to Christmas.
We are now looking to work with employers and other professional sports teams who may wish to white-label the DNA portal for their own employees or customers.
- You may have also seen some of the new digital initiatives we have launched in recent weeks. These are to support your enjoyment of streaming the games at home, but also provide us with sponsorship opportunities for local businesses. Our pre-match YouTube show has proved incredibly popular, as has our digital photo scrambler. More games like this will be coming soon.
- We have also launched a new Doncaster Rovers podcast with James Coppinger and some of our former players, this will be behind a paywall with funds generated being split between the club and Club Doncaster Foundation. Copps has some real fan favourites lined up to be his guests on the show, so it will be worth a listen.
- Last week we also be launched our “adopt a player” junior membership scheme, whilst obviously aimed at a very select audience and a little bit of fun, it has already generated close to £1k in revenue – which is invaluable
- We are also looking to extend our DNA quarterly magazine and are looking for local businesses who may want to advertise in the magazine as a result of its increased readership.
As we look at how we can generate income away from normal sources this season, we are also looking at a new Club Doncaster membership scheme which will be based around monthly payments for either digital or physical access to matches. The scheme will be coupled with additional benefits too and we are looking at how we potentially use this scheme or some other alternatives to give back to some of you who have already invested into your season ticket by extending the number of games it includes into 2021/22.
We are hopeful that these schemes can at least cover half of the shortfall we are expecting whilst protecting against the threat of refunds too. As always, our mission will be to ensure you are genuinely delighted about the packages we create and that you feel valued as a supporter. We will work with the Supporters Board on approach and be honest and transparent about our decision making.
Finally, I just wanted to give a mention and congratulations to Danny Amos and Liam Ravenhill alongside our other players who have begun receiving international recognition. It is an incredibly proud moment when any Doncaster Rovers player is asked to represent their country, and even more humbling when those players are home grown.
As a supporter base your response during this pandemic has been truly phenomenal and I hope we can fully reward your loyalty and support both on and off the pitch in the near future. I know it is incredibly tough out there for everyone for many different reasons.
In the meantime if you are able to continue to support the club through streaming games, buying shirts, and lottery subscriptions then please do so as it does help the club.