The scrap man who rescued the Millers

Ken Booth
Ken Booth
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The followers of Rotherham United know how much they owe to current chairman Tony Stewart, but there will be those who say that without former chairman Ken Booth the football club would have folded years ago.

Opinion was always divided over Ken Booth, the former scrap dealer who went on to head the multi-million pound recycling and manufacturing company, CF Booth Ltd, that adjoins the club’s old Millmoor ground.

He died this week aged 91.

A lifelong Millers fan, he was the man who, in 1987, rescued Rotherham United when no-one else with the necessary clout was around to do so.

He had previously been a director for 15 months but had stepped down, probably realising what might lie ahead. He wanted to be in a position to act if necessary.

In May 1987, the club was in real financial turmoil and, having gone into administration, were on the edge of extinction with debts of £800,000.

In mid-May of that year, at a meeting at Millmoor, Ken Booth stepped in to save the club, wiping off those £800,000-worth of debts.

He had a reputation as a tough negotiator who drove a hard bargain, whether that be in the tough metals business or when dealing with anybody in football, be it within his own club or from outside. He kept a tight grip on the finances. However, there were stories of generosity too.

Former Millers director Carl Luckock says he was much misunderstood by some people. “He was fantastic really, he didn’t suffer fools,” said Carl. “The club was finished and at the 11th hour he put up the money to save it.

“He ended up putting in millions overall and whilst people can talk about getting to Wembley, into The Championship and bringing in Ronnie Moore as manager, success was in 1987 - but for him, there would not have been a football club.”

He sold the club in 2005 to fans’ group Millers 05, wiping off its £3m overdraft but forging an agreement which involved his company getting ownership of Millmoor.

A perceived failure to invest at certain key times, left fans frustrated, and querying a lack of ambition and this agreement, meant fans became even more disgruntled and so overlooked what he had achieved.

He had taken over the running of the CF Booth company from his father Clarence who had also been a Millers supporter.