Why Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart has to keep putting his hand in his pocket

Against a backdrop of falling revenue as a result of Championship relegation, Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart's commitment to keeping the club financially stable had to increase during the 2017-18 campaign.

Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 09:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 09:42 am
Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart.

Stewart saved the club from liquidation in 2008 and over a decade on he is still bankrolling the club via his business, ASD Lighting.

His company increased its sponsorship by £2m to just over £3m, which helped slash the annual pre-tax loss by over half to £510,000. In 2017 they recorded a loss of £1.2million.

The Millers also owe ASD Lighting £3.5m by way of a loan.

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Stewart has received criticism in some quarters for not throwing money at the club's relegation battle this season, with no striker brought in during the January transfer window, but the accounts, published earlier this week, reveal just how much cash the chairman is pumping in.

He had to plug a hole in the income left by a near-£5m loss in TV money which came following the drop into League One.

Along with a reduction in season ticket sales and matchday income, that contributed to a reduced turnover of nearly £3million.

Yet Stewart backed manager Paul Warne to the tune of £275,000 in the transfer market. That allowed them to sign Semi Ajayi, Jamie Proctor and Matt Palmer for fees in the 2017/18 League One campaign as Warne built a squad that ultimately won an immediate return to the second tier.

The club's coffers were of course swelled by the £800,000 they received from Cardiff for striker Danny Ward, after Huddersfield had received the same amount for the sell-on clause they inserted.

Warne managed to win promotion despite a £2.4m drop in what he paid his players. The £6.3m budget was the sixth highest in League One – the Millers finished fourth.

There were 612 fans who decided not to renew their season tickets following the drop into the third tier as the figure fell from 6,194 to 5,582.

While the club would love to have up to 8,000 season-ticket holders, these figures do at least show there is a stable fanbase.