TONY Stewart last night revealed he has ploughed around £30m into Rotherham United since taking charge five years ago.
The Millers, in their first season at the state-of-the-art New York Stadium, are on the verge of clinching promotion from League Two after a barnstorming run-in.
Four successive wins have pushed United two points clear of the chasing pack with just one game remaining, meaning a draw at home to rock bottom Aldershot Town on Saturday should be enough to end the club’s six-year stint in the basement division.
For Stewart, promotion would represent a personal vindication of the money he has poured into the club since taking over in 2008.
A succession of managers have been handed substantial wage budgets way above the average in League Two, while Stewart, the owner of Rotherham-based ASD Lighting, funded the building of United’s new £20m home.
Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post ahead of this weekend’s sell-out clash with Aldershot, the Millers chief said: “I would say I have put in around £30m since first becoming chairman. I’ll admit I didn’t think it would be that high when I first came on board but there you are.
“I see it as an investment, not only on my behalf but also in the town of Rotherham. The stadium has quickly become an iconic feature of the town and one that greets all visitors to the town.
“For me, it creates a favourable impression for any new visitors to Rotherham and that has to be a good thing.”
The New York Stadium, built on the site of the town’s old Guest & Chrimes Foundry, will be filled to its 12,000 capacity for the visit of Aldershot after the final few tickets were snapped up on Monday morning.
Providing the Millers finish the job and clinch automatic promotion, the Football League’s newest venue will, come 5pm on Saturday, be staging a huge celebration party.
Stewart, as chairman, will be leading the way after taking charge when the club was at a low ebb.
In administration for the second time inside 18 months, Rotherham would soon be homeless after leaving Millmoor over a rent row. Four years were then spent in exile at the Don Valley Stadium – during which the club lost £1m per year – before they returned home last summer.
Stewart, who leases the New York Stadium to United, said: “I am proud of how far the club has come and pleased by how this season has gone. I have a positive attitude and have always believed we can achieve what we want to achieve if everyone truly believes. Moving to the new stadium has been the key. We could have built a smaller one but I wanted something that Rotherham as a town could be proud of.”
The next part of Stewart’s masterplan involves United pushing on towards the Championship along with the next phase of building work on the old Foundry site to get under way and bring his dream of building a hotel, gym and leisure facilities.
He added: “You have to think long-term, especially when it comes to investment.”
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