Clubs bigger than individuals, insists Rotherham United chief Tony Stewart

TONY STEWART has stressed that chairmen have a social responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure that clubs survive amid the coronavirus crisis.

Many Football League clubs – more especially in League One and League Two – are struggling to cope with the financial ramifications of Covid-19.

Last month, Huddersfield Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson issued a warning regarding the future of EFL clubs, voicing fears that up to 60 could go out of business over the next 12 months if a rescue package is not agreed.

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Prudent decision-making means that Rotherham are better placed than most in the lower leagues to stay afloat.

Rotherham United chairman: Tony Stewart.

Millers chairman Stewart told The Yorkshire Post: “The town needs a football club that has got longevity. You look at Bury and I said to Rick Parry: ‘forget people like me, I am just a custodian of Rotherham United.’

“Rotherham United is more important than the chairman and boards. What you have got to do is what is good for the club and not what is good for the chairman.

“Chairmen come and go, but then you look at Bury, who have gone. They have gone because of bad stewardship. The EFL have got to see that and need to make sure that they do the due diligence (in future).

“The idea is to look after the club, so that when you leave, you try and make it better than it was when you found it.”

One idea being mooted is for the government to offer financial help to keep struggling clubs afloat in exchange for a minority shareholding with independent directors appointed onto boards.

It is included in a blueprint entitled ‘A Way Forward for Football’, recently unveiled by former Digital, Culture, Media and Sport chair Damian Collins MP and Sunderland shareholder Charlie Methven.

Stewart added: “I think it is one of those things. If the cap fits, you would wear it.

“If you are looking at anything out there and that is the only thing out there and is the difference between closing the doors and keeping them open, that is the option.

“For Rotherham, I don’t think I would take that option because at the end of the day, we have got a good club and it is the people who make the club.

“After 12 years, we have got a nice culture and fanbase.

“It is something, touch wood, at this moment in time, that is not in my thoughts.”

Stewart continued: “But who knows? If we get to Christmas and things have not happened, who knows what option you would take then.”

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