End of an era: Millmoor farewell for Rotherham

ROTHERHAM United have been forced to sever all ties with Millmoor and will kick-off next season at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium.

Stressing that they had 'no other option' and that this is only 'a temporary move', the current administration have taken the decision to leave the famous old ground after 101 years, to safeguard the future of the cash-strapped club.

The troubled Millers could be playing five miles away at Don Valley Stadium for the next five years while the club await the building of a new community stadium in Rotherham, which is still only in the early stages of planning.

Chairman Tony Stewart, who is covering the running costs of the club which remains in administration, has been unable to agree terms on the lease from the Booth family, who own Millmoor.

Millers chief executive Paul Douglas said: "Talks between ourselves and the landlords have broken down and we will leave Millmoor by the end of this month.

"We have been unable to agree terms to allow us to stay at Millmoor, despite our best intentions."

Douglas said the state of the ground was a major sticking point in the negotiations but the cost of rent, believed to be around 16,000 per month, has also been a deciding factor.

He added: "Our initial hope was to buy the ground on a freehold or long leasehold, so that we could get the necessary investment to complete the work at Millmoor.

"We then wanted to have a short-term lease so we could move into a community stadium.

"Don Valley is a temporary move and obviously we wanted to stay in Rotherham, but everything we do has to be right for the football club.

"And because of this we are now redoubling our focus on a community stadium in Rotherham."

A council spokeswoman last night said talks over a potential community stadium were still only at an exploratory stage.

Despite this, the present Millers administration is pinning all its hopes on a stadium for themselves and Rotherham Titans rugby club to be built in the near future.

Douglas added: "We have agreed terms with Don Valley Stadium. During the negotiations with the Booth family we had to have a fallback option. We could be there for three to five years, hopefully the former, but as soon as we get the community stadium the better," he said.

"There are lots of discussions ongoing (about the community stadium), but the commitment from Rotherham Council is there, and ourselves and Rotherham Rugby Club are equally committed. Staying at Millmoor was the preferable option, but having to move away will make us even more focussed on helping deliver a new stadium."

Steve Pearce, chairman of the Rotherham United Supporters Club, said news of the move was a sad day for the club, adding that new owners must make bringing the club back into the town to play matches one of their main priorities.

"I think in some ways the fans are split over which way the club should go," he said.

"Some of them refused to come to Millmoor because of it's poor facilities, while others have already said they will not go to watch the club play at Don Valley simply because it's in Sheffield. Once the new owners are settled we'd like to meet them, voice our concerns and see if we can help."

History of the Millers

1870: Formed as Thornhill United

1905: Changed name to Rotherham County

1907: Began playing at Millmoor

1925: Merged with Rotherham Town to become Rotherham United

2005: Relegated from Championship, sparking downward spiral

2006: Club enters administration and docked 10 points

2008: Club enters administration for a second time

2008: Leave Millmoor to play at Don Valley Stadium.