Chairman Tony Stewart has issued a public apology to suffering supporters for Rotherham United’s season of woe.
The bottom-placed Millers are on the verge of ending their three-year stay in the Championship after setting a new club record for the number of defeats in a single campaign.
And the man who rescued Rotherham from administration nine years ago, built New York Stadium and has overseen two promotions in his nine-year tenure didn’t shy away from shouldering the blame.
“We apologise for the season that has gone and for not giving the performances that we should have done,” he told The Star.
“As a board, we take full responsibility for the shocks that have happened. It certainly wasn’t part of the plan to get into the Championship and then go back down to League One.”
With relegation set to be confirmed after the international break following 29 league losses and only one away point all season, Stewart is determined to instigate an upturn in fortunes next year in the third tier.
“The remit of the board and I is to put the smiles back on the faces of fans,” he said. “We want to give them the encouragement they deserve. Now we need to look forward.
“Have we lost our ambition? No, we haven’t. We will now prepare like we have never prepared before to ensure we have a team that gives the excitement that took us from the dark days of moving out of Rotherham (to Don Valley Stadium for a four-season spell) to the bright days of moving into New York and getting into the Championship.”
Rotherham appointed a head of recruitment, Jamie Johnson, three months ago and aim to emulate South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley who have climbed out of League One and prospered in the Championship by focusing on signing and developing young talent.
“With young players, you can have them for two or three seasons,” Stewart said. “Rotherham have been a club where it’s been like a revolving door. Players have come in and gone out. That has to stop. It’s a waste of resources.
“Our friends at Barnsley have done a fantastic job. We take our hat off to them, because they have spent wisely and they have deserved what they have got.
“Rotherham will do what Rotherham need to do. Rotherham have eyes. We do look and we will make sure we’re doing the right things that our neighbours are doing.
“We’ve had managers who have brought in players on a whim. We’re not having that anymore. We’re planning for the long-term future, not just one season.”
The club plan to name their new permanent manager next month, after the home derby against Sheffield Wednesday on April 4.
Caretaker boss Paul Warne, who stepped into the breach last November after the disastrous reigns of Alan Stubbs and Kenny Jackett, is in the frame, along with “two or three” other candidates.
The Millers may consider keeping Warne at the helm and bringing in an experienced No 2.
“I don’t want to make excuses for what has gone before. We’ve had two managers, plus Warney,” Stewart said.
“We are looking to make a decision with regard to the way forward. We’ll be having meetings this week. I do think we will be announcing things to the fans after the Sheffield Wednesday game.
“With six games left after that, whoever the manager is needs to prepare the way forward.”