DONCASTER Rovers are set to take over the running of the town’s financially troubled Keepmoat Stadium.
Council bosses have said that Rovers taking overall control of the complex is the only “solution” to dealing with the taxpayer-funded venue’s spiralling losses.
Financial crisis has plagued the Keepmoat since it opened six years ago at a cost of £32 million - excluding the land value. Stadium Management Company (SMC) which runs the venue has racked up losses of £2.1 million.
The Free Press exclusively revealed that Rovers were talking to the council about taking over the running of stadium. A report this week recommends the council allow Rovers to take over the Keepmoat for 99 years - in exchange for £100,000 a year rent.
Simon Wiles, the authority’s director of finance, said: “The only potential viable solution is to wind up the SMC and give greater management control, usage rights and security of tenure to Doncaster Rovers, in return for them taking responsibility for the loss making facility and paying a rental to the council.”
Rovers chairman John Ryan declined to comment as negotiations were ongoing - but he promised a full statement once the talks were complete.
While talks are ongoing, up to eight staff are expected to be made redundant as the SMC seeks to make further savings. Overspends on staff have been upto £600,000 a year.
The report recommends allowing Rovers to take over the stadium for a further 80 years in addition to the 19 years remaining on the current agreement.
An issue with not extending the deal is that the council has guaranteed that if the SMC does not exist taxpayers would have to pay for Rovers to use another stadium.
The deal would also include a longer term deal on Rovers’ training ground in Cantley.
The club would have the chance to raise extra cash from the site. Suggestions include boosting income from installing solar panels and making greater use of the bars, gym and Soccer Centre.
Mayor Peter Davies has previously branded the Keepmoat “an albatross around the neck” of ratepayers and said it was “likely” to end up in Rovers’ control.
Despite efforts to make savings, Mr Wiles has concluded that the SMC will continue to lose up to £400,000 a year.
Rovers currently pay £281,000 to the SMC but external advisors have said that if it renegotiated, then the club should be paying up to £600,000 - which is “considerably” in excess of what Rovers would be willing to pay.
Analysis has concluded that all the stadium’s main tenants - Rovers, the Belles, the Dons and the athletics club - do not pay anything like the true cost.
The report also guarantees that any contract with Rovers would include a written agreement to guarantee the Dons, athletics club and the Belles continued use of the stadium.
In March Mr Wiles said the SMC was no longer a “going concern”.
Other options the council had explored included knocking the stadium down and selling the land.