Ken Booth

Ken Booth

Ken Booth

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WEALTHY scrap metal merchant Ken Booth, who has died aged 91, stepped in to save Rotherham United in 1987 when club debts reached £789,000 and it went into administration.

Although his involvement with the club was sometimes controversial, his dedication was never in question.

In April, 1987, United’s finances were so dire that its bank and two firms, one of them CF Booth Ltd, guaranteed the wages until the end of the season.

A month later, Mr Booth came up with a package to wipe out the debt, and he then remained chairman for the next 17 years.

In 2004 he sold the club to Millers 05 group, writing off a debt of £3m in exchange for keeping ownership of the Millmoor ground, the Tivoli nightclub in front of it and the Hooton Lodge training ground.

Relations, however, soured. One issue which caused friction was an arrangement under which, the directors said, the Booths were entitled to some 30 free tickets to every home match, with entertainment, advertising in the ground, and first call on away tickets and FA Cup final tickets.

Just two years later, that all came to an end when the club again went into administration.

Paying a higher rent under its new owners, Denis Coleman and associates, it struggled on but in March 2008 went into administration for a third time in 21 years.

Its new chairman, Tony Stewart, was unable to reach a deal with the Booth family, and the Millers left the Millmoor ground.

The club played four seasons at Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield before moving back to Rotherham to use the new £20m Keepmoat Stadium.

In an ironic twist of fate,
the club’s new home in Rotherham’s New York district faces the Booth family’s scrap and recycling yard.

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