An update from chief executive Gavin Baldwin.
It’s hard to believe that is only February, January was such a busy month on and off the pitch and I’m sure you will have been pleased with the results which saw the team win every league game and earn an impressive Emirates FA cup victory against Blackburn Rovers.
In what was an incredibly busy transfer window for the club, I want to thank the owners for their continued commitment and also all of you for your patience throughout the window. We started the window securing the loan signings of Ellery Balcombe and Elliot Simoes, with Joe Lumley and Rayhaan Tulloch going back to their parent clubs.
It was obviously disappointing to lose Ben Whiteman, but this had been the third successive window we had received bids for Ben from Championship clubs. He had made his mind up that he wanted to progress his career and move closer to home. It was a difficult decision to let Ben leave, but we have always said that we won’t stand in a player’s way if they want to leave and the finances on the deal are right.
The deal with Ben provided the club with valuable funds immediately and there is the opportunity for those monies to increase in the future. The funds have been invested back into the first team, but also helped to provide much needed financial security, in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
At the end of December, we received our rescue package from the EFL and Premier League and, while we are grateful for the support, sadly we didn’t receive as much as we had told to expect with the majority of funds going to bigger teams in League One. This ultimately left the club with a significant six figure shortfall against what we were expecting.
As the third national lockdown continues to impact the income streams of not only Doncaster Rovers but also Club Doncaster (which has helped to keep the club alive up to this point), it is easy to see why the Ben deal was so important.
The work of Darren Moore and Adam Henshall in the transfer window was superb, adding a number of quality players in John Bostock, Omar Bogle and Scott Robertson, alongside securing the return of Josh Sims who was excellent in the first half of the season for us.
The recruitment of Josh in particularly is really exciting, given the number of Championship clubs that had shown interest in him. In addition to the new signings we were also delighted to keep Matt Smith at the club, whilst Matt had signed a season long loan with us initially, a call back option was in place and, with Championship clubs once again showing interest, we had to renegotiate with Manchester City to keep Matt here for the second half of the season.
Away from transfers and I want to thank everyone who was able to support our West Ham virtual ticket package. We generated more than £13,000 from the initiative, which is not insignificant. In fact in a normal season that would be close to a Tuesday night ticket sales figure against a low travelling opposition.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who took part in our In Rovers We Trust survey. We had more than 900 responses in five days which is a record and we’ll release the full results next month after we have met with the Supporters Board.
In the meantime, here are some of the headlines:
- the majority have seen no change to their job security or personal finances
- the majority are less confident at doing day to day activities such as going to the shops or meeting with friends and family.
- internet usage during the pandemic has increased
- around two thirds of supporters feel their engagement level this season is as normal or they are more engaged despite not being able to attend.
- 9 out of ten respondents said that they feel more valued or valued at the same level as the club as they were pre-pandemic
- more than 90% of respondents have noticed our CEO updates (like this one) and around three quarters of respondents have found them to be useful or it has helped them to feel engaged or valued
- the vast majority expect all the Covid19 safety protocols we listed to be in place and consider them important
- iFollow was rated 3.7 out of 5 and most have found everything on the easier side of things – the biggest difficulties have been casting the app to a TV.
- less than 5% of you who bought a season ticket this season want a full refund with more than 50% of you suggesting we could treat it as a donation.
This last statistic is phenomenal and we are incredibly appreciative of your generosity. We have of course made no decisions for next season yet and will wait until we have a clear picture of what is possible nationally before making any decisions. Your answers, however, will really help our thinking and so thank you for your participation and continued support. As always, it will be our intention to delight you as supporters and we hope we can do that both on and off the pitch this year.