Just over 12 months after they relinquished their Championship status in pitiful fashion after winning only five league games, the Millers are back in the second tier competing against the likes of Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United and Leeds United after clinching promotion in Sunday’s 2-1 extra-time success over Shrewsbury Town in the League One play-off final.
Stewart believes that the club now have every chance to consolidate after learning some harsh lessons during the previous season, fortified by his fervent belief that the Millers’ recruitment policy is far more coherent than in previous years.
On the club’s third promotion of his decade in charge and second play-off triumph at Wembley following their penalty success over Leyton Orient four years ago, Stewart said: “I think it is fantastic and I am ecstatic.
“Who would have thought this 12 months ago when we fell from grace.
“But what we did do last season was prepare through recruitment and we got a chap called Paul Warne.
“That has worked and it has been fantastic and the young lads have come on and are developing as they will again next season.
“I think we will be more able to compete in the Championship and will be ready for that. Promotion means now we have a bit more money for investment to improve the squad and encourage Paul to keep doing what he is doing.
“Let’s hope that next season, we have another good season. I think the template we have got will give us that.
“It (promotion) is worth at least six million.
“It is a good six million with the income coming into the stadium and the TV income. It is at least six and probably a bit more.
“But at this point it is safe to say six.”
How much of that will be reinvested into the first team is unclear but Stewart admitted preparations for the Championship had begun in earnest.
“You are always preparing,” said Stewart.
“We have got choices and we have a shortlist of about 50 players in all positions.
“The recruitment team, manager and staff, will see which way the pendulum is going and I have to support that with hard cash.
“Recruitment and finding players is not my forte. I would also like to think that the guys who made it at Wembley and got us into the Championship are also a big part of our future.
“These are not all old men and there are some rising stars.”
Meanwhile, Stewart has credited Warne with restoring the club’s pride following a fractured and unharmonious 2016-17 season, with the decision to hand the former fitness coach the full-time reigns back in April 2017 looking arguably the shrewdest decision of his decade in charge of the club.
Warne was initially handed the managerial role on an interim basis following the shock departure of Kenny Jackett, who left the club after just five games and 39 days in charge back in November 2016.
Despite failing to prevent the Millers from being relegated in 2016-17, Warne has helped galvanise the club over the past 12 months, with his impressive renaissance work winning countless admirers along the way.
On the impact of Warne, the ninth appointment of Stewart’s reign, the Millers chairman said: “Paul had been fitness coach for a number of years and did not come out of a hiding place.
“All the previous managers spoke really highly of him and said he was fantastic and he was not alien to me.
“I knew he had the culture and was a hard-working individual.
“My son said: ‘What about Paul Warne?’ And three seconds later, I said: ‘hey you are right.’
“He has got no bad habits and is intelligent and all that we expected, he has delivered and then some.
“When (Kenny) Jackett left, I thought: ‘I have had enough of this.’ I did not want to go back to the merry-go-round and said ‘Right, I am not having this again.’
“We got in a rookie who has no bad habits and is honest and hard-working.
“The young lads all love him. The pride is now back into Rotherham United.
“Many things have come into play in the success of this season and recruitment has played a part.
“Paul and his staff, with the training and the coaching, have also all come into play too.
“You speak about many of the players and say are they better now than they were at the beginning of the season?
Yes, they have come on leaps and bounds.
“I still think they have the potential to go on next season and hopefully surprise us again.”