CHAIRMAN Tony Stewart has pledged to give manager Paul Warne more money to spend as Rotherham United bid to consolidate their place in the Championship.
The Millers have won promotion from League One for the third time in five years and the club’s owner accepts playing expenditure must increase to avoid the past scenarios of immediate relegation.
“We’re determined to stay in the Championship,” Stewart said. “We’ve been there before. If we do the same again we’re going to go down. We’re going to do something different.
“I know that to stay there we need a competitive squad. I’ve got my eyes wide open. The wallet will have to play a part. Paul will get a bigger budget than the last time we were at that level.”
Warne plans to make a number of summer signings after leading Rotherham to second spot in the third tier and to a Wembley win in the Papa John’s Trophy Final.
Stewart said: “We’re moving into the Championship with a better squad than before and we’ll improve that squad.
“I’ll leave that, obviously, to the manager and recruitment staff. They’ll come to me with suggestions, then we’ll move things forward.
“I don’t lack ambition. It’s coming to the time where more investment will have to go in and I’m prepared for that. We will recruit.
“The recruitment team have been in place for three years now and they’re doing a better and better job. They know Rotherham United inside out.”
Going up is worth more than £7 million in TV revenue and the club the chairman took charge of in 2008 have never been in better shape.
“This is my 14th year and it’s lovely to see the stability we have,” he said. “We’ve retained the manager and his staff, we’re retaining lots of players.
“The days when it was like a revolving door — eight players going in, eight players going out — will never happen again.”
While Stewart is ready to dig deep into his pocket to establish a foothold in the Championship, he won’t jeopardise the Millers’ financial well-being.
“At Rotherham United, we cut our cloth accordingly,” he said. “I’ve always said we’re in for a marathon not a sprint. I like the club to be run well and that’s how it will always be while ever I’m at the helm.”
ROTHERHAM United have made their move to try to keep key man Michael Smith at the club.
The 25-goal top scorer is at the end of his contract and set to become a free agent after four and a half years at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Chairman Tony Stewart has met in person with the player and gone the extra mile in his attempt to persuade the 30-year-old to commit his future to the Millers.
“I’ve put a good deal in front of him,” he said. “It’s a deal that I’ve never offered before. It’s a ‘wallet’ deal.
“I’ve worked with (manager) Paul Warne to put a deal together and fingers crossed we get it done. Hopefully we’ve turned his head.”
Smith, who has won three League One promotions with Rotherham admits his career was going nowhere before he moved to South Yorkshire from Bury on a free transfer in January 2017.
The centre-forward played a huge part in the Millers’ rise to the Championship this season and is attracting interest from other clubs.
“He’s been good for Rotherham United and Rotherham United have been good for him,” Stewart said. “Being here has brought him on as a player. We’ve given him something that will hopefully make him strongly consider staying.”
Rotherham expect a decision by the end of this month.
Smith was one of the players who headed to Las Vegas late last week for a team break funded by Stewart as a reward for their promotion efforts.
“I blame the manager,” Stewart joked. “He talked to me about it and I thought he said Skegness!
“The lads deserved it. When they’re on a high, keep them on a high and get them feeling good for the start of next season.”
ROTHERHAM United have wasted no time in making contact with their top targets in the summer transfer window.
Phone calls have taken place and there have also been online get-togethers between the Millers management and potential new recruits.
“We’ve had a couple of Zoom meetings with possible signings for them to get to know us and us to get to know them,” said coach Matt Hamshaw.
“We’ve all been on the phone a hell of a lot this week as well trying to be the first ones in for the players we’ve identified as ones we like.
“If you’re in for them at this stage it means they’re your number-one targets. I’m not saying we’re going to sign them all but, obviously, we’d like to.”
Manager Paul Warne predicts there could be as many as nine arrivals at AESSEAL New York Stadium depending on how many of his present squad leave the club.
Meanwhile, several out-of-contract Millers were learning of their fate this week.
The likes of Chiedozie Ogbene, Viktor Johansson, Joe Mattock, Freddie Ladapo, Mickel Miller, Jamie Lindsay and Michael Ihiekwe are all at the end of their deals.
The club hold 12-month options on most of those players but not Ihiekwe who will become a free agent.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, Hamshaw said: “The squad got back from Las Vegas on Monday. Some will be done today and the majority done tomorrow.
“It might be that in some cases we decide not to trigger the extension but offer them a new deal.”
Players who may be released include Mattock and Ladapo.
Preston North End are ready to listen to offers for Rotherham old boy Matt Olosunde who has had an injury-plagued first year at Deepdale after leaving the Millers.