Promotion pride for Rotherham United boss

ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne has revealed that helping to secure the livelihoods of staff members represents his greatest source of pride following the Millers’ promotion to the Championship.

League One clubs formally voted by an overwhelming majority to end the 2019-20 season on an unweighted points per game basis on Tuesday afternoon. It is understood that just four clubs wanted to play on.

It ensured an instant return to the second tier for Rotherham, who finished the League One season in second place, along with newly-crowned champions Coventry, with Wycombe, Fleetwood, Oxford and Portsmouth to compete in the play-offs.

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Tranmere, Southend and Bolton have been relegated.

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne. Picture Tony Johnson.

All 71 English Football League members clubs had earlier opted to use a framework for ending the season put forward by the EFL, which meant the final table would be calculated using an unweighted PPG basis.

One of the biggest beneficiaries are Rotherham, with chairman Tony Stewart admitting that promotion is a boost amid the financial uncertainty of football’s Covid-19 crisis.

The Millers, like most lower-division clubs, have furloughed players and staff members.

On what his second promotion as Millers manager means to him, Warne said: “Apart from me and Richie Barker (assistant), it has secured everyone’s future in the club. I’d like to think so anyway; our jobs are never secure – I understand that.

“You are talking about people’s livelihoods and it is the same in every walk of life at the moment. If we go up this way and it makes our club more financially stable, then why wouldn’t I be proud of that. I am and now I have got a lot less awkward conversations than I might have to.

“I said from day one that my honest opinion was to null and void it or finish it how it was. I never believed it was financially viable to bring everyone out of furlough and do the testing and finish the league in its entirety.”

Stewart acknowledged: “Financially, it will be better for Rotherham, the fans and the club. It will help with sponsorship and everything. I’ve no doubt at some point the fans will come back and we will fill the stadium.”

Adamant that the process to end the season was a fair one, he continued: “The Football League – and credit due to them, it was not easy and they could not satisfy everybody – have paid care and attention to let everybody have their points of view scrutinised.

“It has been democratic and a long time coming, but sometimes the best deals take a bit longer..”

Promotion came on the first anniversary of the death of Warne’s father Russell, with the Millers boss alluding to a human element in the successful ending of an emotionally tough season.

January saw the tragic deaths of Chris Barker – brother of Millers assistant manager Richie – and Jordan Sinnott, the best friend of midfielder Matt Crooks.

Meanwhile, supporter Andrew Wilson-Storey also passed away while attending the match at Accrington in February.

Warne added: “It’s good for the club at this bad time and hopefully it will give people in Rotherham a lot to smile about.

“It’s poignant for me because it is the anniversary of my father’s death and it sums up the season we have had. We’ve had a lot of heartache in the club, some really sad stories within my coaching and playing staff.

“We have also had some sad stories on the terraces, more than I have ever known and it just feels like we are a really unified club which makes me really proud.

“To go up the way we have isn’t ideal, but it is probably the fairest way to end the season. It will probably sink in later because it seems a bit surreal. You get promoted and there is a game, a pitch invasion or something.

“It does feel odd but it doesn’t detract from the achievement of the lads this year, they have thoroughly deserved to be in the top two. It’s not like they have turned up by fluke.”

In a statement, Doncaster Rovers said they ‘fully understand’ the decision made by League One clubs to curtail the season.

Rovers finished in ninth place, the same position that Bradford City occupied in the final League Two standings. As expected, fourth-tier clubs voted to end their season by an ‘overwhelming majority’ after unanimously agreeing that in an indicative vote back on May 15.

Swindon are League Two champions with Plymouth and Crewe promoted automatically. But it is not yet certain who will drop into the National League.

Stevenage are bottom, but may yet be reprieved with Macclesfield handed a fresh misconduct charge on June 1.

The National League meet today and are set to announce plans to complete their season. Harrogate Town, who finished in second place, are pushing for promotion. FC Halifax Town finished in a play-off position, while York City were in an automatic promotion position when National League North ended.

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