Part-timers Rotherham will go back to financial basics

Nick Cragg: Tough decisions.
Nick Cragg: Tough decisions.
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AS A result of their long expected relegation, Rotherham Titans chairman Nick Cragg says the club will now become a part-time operation, but maintains suffering the drop could eventually bring “benefits”.

Demotion from the Championship was finally confirmed on Saturday when Nic Rouse’s side lost 38-16 in Jersey.

They have been in the second tier for 14 years, but managed just one win from 19 outings this term so their fate has been inevitable for some time.

Clearly there now have to be questions answered regarding the future of the South Yorkshire club, who rode as high as the Premiership in 2000-01 and 2003-04.

With central funding and crowds dropping in the semi-professional National One, getting back will not be easy.

Admittedly neighbours Doncaster Knights retained a full-time squad when they suffered relegation in 2013 and immediately returned to go on and establish themselves as a top-four Championship club.

But Cragg told The Yorkshire Post: “Even with Doncaster, who kept their budget exactly the same, it still came down to the final game of the season against Rosslyn Park for them to get that promotion.

“We will go part-time; it is necessary given the financial situation we are in.

“We’ll be putting a team together that is competitive in that league and our aspiration obviously is to come back.

“It’s not going to be easy – we know that – but least we know where we are now and it is sport at the end of the day.

“We’ve always punched above our weight at Rotherham and you have to remain optimistic.”

There are, of course, fears that the club, which has traditionally struggled financially, may not recover and this could be the end of a full-time professional side in the town.

Cragg admitted: “You might be right. We don’t know what will happen. But it won’t be for the want of trying.

“I do think it could bring some benefits actually. We can go back to basics and go back to a different sort of model.

“Before we’ve gone the way of everyone else really – you must have this and must do that – following them rather than ploughing our own furrow.

“But look at Bedford Blues. They’re part-time, always have been, yet they’re third in the Championship.

“Richmond are part-time, too, and making a job of it. We’ve learned from them and we’ll tailor-make our model around that.

“We’ll work at it and bring a better foundation to it; in the time we spend in National One, we’ll look at not just the football side, but the financial one as well.

“We have a board meeting on Tuesday to discuss those matters and have to be positive. We didn’t want this to happen, but it has and now we have to build again.”

Rouse’s position will be discussed at that meeting today, but he is expected to move on to a role at Championship rivals Nottingham.

On squad prospects, Cragg added: “We’ve got some players not contracted as such, but assigned, and they’re definitely with us next season.

“But the contracts will be issued during the course of April.”