#AskGavin Part Two: Rovers chief executive answers your questions

Gavin Baldwin
Gavin Baldwin

GAVIN Baldwin discusses business strategy and the club’s new youth development policy in the second part of our social media interview.

Eddy Linn ‏@eddylinn

Are there any plans in place to promote matches and offers to increase attendances?

The club promotes games in the local media and also distributes posters and flyers around the town centre and in areas of high footfall such as the Dome, Lakeside Village, Frenchgate Shopping Centre and council buildings.

We also have ticket outlets in over ten different locations around Doncaster, including several leisure centres and the Blue Building on High Street.

We’re currently undergoing some activity with large employers in Doncaster too, inviting their workforce to games through very targeted promotions.

Our marketing team work closely with our Foundation to ensure the club engage with every school in Doncaster through initiatives such as The Rovers Roadshow, which allows every child in Doncaster the opportunity to attend and experience a Rovers matchday for free.

We also provided every school in Doncaster with the opportunity to sign up for our attendance for attendance scheme. This rewards a child with 100% attendance during a term with a free ticket for a game.

The club have excellent links with the local football leagues and in January will once again be inviting teams to take part in pre-match tournaments followed by watching a match.

More than 75 teams took part in these tournaments last year.

Matthew Pickering ‏@mjpicko

How do you intend to maximise revenues above and beyond gate receipts? What are the early revenue projections for the first year in charge of the stadium?

Early projections are that we will be putting £250,000 of revenue towards the club in our first year, which is an amazing achievement considering the stadium has lost money year on year.

Our business plan is to improve commercial revenues year on year and achieve sustainable growth.

Our commercial team work hard to ensure that events such as the Big Bang not only make money through ticket sales but are supported by event sponsorship.

We’re looking to bring new events such an Asian Market to the stadium and ensuring that the stadium has events throughout the year.

Unlike the previous management team we will only adopt a no risk strategy when running activities and events at the stadium.

This ensures that every event at the very least generates monies that can be invested back into the football club.

In addition we have signed excellent partnership agreements with the likes of Spotless, our stadium caterers and DCLT, who are now operating the gym.

Spotless are spending over £150,000 revamping our kiosks and improving the quality and service provision, this can only help in attracting and retaining supporters.

People like Philip Batty from Spotless and Michael Hart, the chief executive of DCLT, really understand our vision for the stadium and how all of our organisations can work together in partnership.

We have a strong partnership policy at the club and we hope this will bring results.

Whether the partnership is with our major sponsors such as One-Call, Stoneacre and Polypipe, our fans through the supporters club and VSC, or through other key stakeholders such as the Dons, DMBC, South Yorkshire Police, DCLT and Spotless, we work hard to ensure they know our plans and aims and likewise we know their objectives.

By having this partnership approach everyone can pull together for the benefit of everyone involved.

Ben Alexander‏@bpdben

Why do you think people don’t come to watch Doncaster Rovers?

Doncaster Rovers are one of the few clubs in the UK that have a fan engagement strategy.

Through our work with international fan engagement expert Mark Bradley we have developed In Rovers We Trust, a programme which allows the club to work closely with fans to ensure we deliver maximum satisfaction for supporters.

In Rovers We Trust has helped decide our season ticket and matchday prices, the type of food sold inside the stadium and the match day music.

It was also responsible for the successful cash turnstile trials which took place at the recent cup games against Chesterfield and Bradford Park Avenue.

It’s also due to the feedback from fans that we have kept stands open during cup games and friendly matches, as these were all issues fans stated as important to them.

We receive huge amounts of support on this project from supporters like Martin O’Hara, Len South, Paul Mayfield and many more.

A perfect example of how the policy has been successful is with match day travel, which has seen us team up with the local bus provider to put on three specialised shuttle busses from Car Park 3 of the stadium to the interchange after the final whistle.

This type of activity can only help encourage more people to attend Rovers games.

We’re also working hard this year to protect the investment of our season ticket holders.

We currently have no intention of running a large price promotion at a match and this year, through our ultimate season ticket package, have already provided over 400 season ticket holders with either a special spot prize or a unique experience.

Jamie Lane ‏@jamie_lane91

How is our youth recruitment policy shaping up in terms of trying to prevent Doncaster talent going to bigger local clubs?

Dean has a real commitment to supporting the youth and is an active promoter of the club’s Alliance scheme, which puts funds directly into the youth set up.

Last year the club’s youth team performed incredibly well, winning a cup competition, and on the back of that Dean signed up several youth players.

Dean also spends time with Paul Wilson and the other youth coaches and has involvement with every age group.

His commitment to building the youth set up is first class and youngsters such as James Husband and Jordan Ball (pictured below) have made the step up and show that there is a pathway into the first team.

This will continue to encourage more youngsters to sign up to our youth set up.

Jon Sutton ‏@jmsutton

Are you confident that the five youth players promoted each year will be good enough to push for starting places?

We are without doubt a work in progress but I see no reason why not.

If we can continue to invest in our youth team then we can start to improve the quality of our youth products.

Our business plan is to take on five youngsters a year and then loan those players out to clubs, so therefore the youth players do not have any impact on wage budgets.

By loaning the players out this allows them an extra year to develop and an opportunity to get game time.

At the end of that year hopefully the players will be in a position for first team football.

Therefore this either saves us having to buy a player or, as a worse-case scenario, the player may be sold to raise funds which can then be used to invest in the development of the youth team.

This project is especially dear to Dean because he was released as a 16-year-old but then a year later he was in the Wales squad.

Dean believes that giving players an extra year to develop, letting them train with the first team squad and getting regular game time at a lower level, is the best way of developing players.