Football club strikes deal to take over town’s loss-making stadium

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PLANS for Doncaster Rovers to take over the management of the town’s taxpayer-funded Keepmoat Stadium have been finalised by council members.

The £32m stadium, currently run by the Stadium Management Company, is running at a loss and debts have fallen on the taxpayer.

Under the agreement, Doncaster Rovers will pay the council £100,000 a year and receive a 99-year-lease on the stadium.

They will also take over all financial responsibility for the Keepmoat Stadium, which will continue to be home to the football club, as well as Doncaster Belles and Doncaster Athletic Club.

Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, said: “It is well known that the stadium is losing money and the cabinet’s decision seeks to provide a long-term financial solution which will protect the taxpayers of Doncaster from unnecessary expenditure in the future, whilst at the same time securing the futures of the town’s key sports clubs at the Keepmoat.

“Doncaster Council should be concentrating on its core business and, quite frankly, running a stadium is not what the council should be doing or has the skills and expertise to do well.

“It is unfortunate that we need to pick up the pieces of poor decision-making in the past, but we have to find an appropriate solution so we can move on.”

It was originally envisaged the SMC would make an annual surplus of around £300,000.

Instead, staff wages have been up to £600,000 a year more than planned and income has been well below what was expected.

John Ryan, chairman of Doncaster Rovers, said the decision was “fantastic news” and added: “This is clearly the best option for the future of the stadium and the option which meets the needs of local residents by removing the current burden on the tax payer.

“In-depth legal discussions will now take place and, subject to an agreement being made, we will take over management of the stadium on July 1 2012.

“Our aim is to bring the stadium back to the residents, our fans and the business community and to remind people that the Keepmoat is a venue to be proud of.”