"Top end" ... Chairman Tony Stewart on Rotherham United's budget for League One

"Top end" ... Chairman Tony Stewart on Rotherham United's budget for League One

By Paul Davis | 02/06/2019

'Top end' ... Chairman Tony Stewart on Rotherham United's budget for League One
Tony Stewart

TONY Stewart plans to give manager Paul Warne "top-end" spending power as Rotherham United look to make a quickfire escape from League One.

Stewart is adamant the Millers' financial stability won't be put at risk under his watch but the owner will back the boss in the bid to return to the Championship after last season's relegation.

"In terms of finances, we will be a bigger force in League One than we were in the Championship," Stewart said. "It will be a top-end League One budget.”

The chairman was proud of how Warne's side fought so valiantly for their safety last term before finally suffering the drop on the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

Now he wants to end the yo-yo sequence which has seen Rotherham twice promoted from the third tier and twice relegated from the division above in the last five years.

"We will always be ambitious," he said. "Our main priority is to get back into the Championship next season, or the season after, and prove we are capable of maintaining a place there, whether it's fifth from bottom or tenth from bottom.

"Obviously, like with any businessman, if you're putting the investment in, you want a return."

Stewart saved Rotherham from administration in 2008 and, when a deal to remain at their old Millmoor home couldn't be struck, had to take them to Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium for four years while AESSEAL New York Stadium was built.

Although the lighting tycoon has put money at Warne's disposal, he will continue to make the club's long-term viability his overriding priority.

"We'll never burst the bank," he said. "At the end of the day, we owe it to Rotherham United and we owe it to the town to make sure we have got a sustainable vision for the future.

"We'll always stay in Rotherham. We have a nice stadium, good people working for the club and fans who have celebrated the good football we have played. I want to retain that."

Stewart isn't putting a figure on the playing spend for 2019/20 and Warne expects it to be less than last year. However, the sum will still be much more competitive at League One level than the Championship outlay which was the lowest in the division.

"In my 11 years at Rotherham, we have never had a set budget as such," the owner said. "We seem to spend what we feel is appropriate in that season.

"When we went down from the Championship two years ago, we had a budget that was going on for £11 million.

"That was the same budget, barring around £1m, that Huddersfield Town had and they reached the Premier League. We went south and they went north."

Rotherham had their fingers burned in that 2016/17 season, which started with Alan Stubbs in charge and ended with misfit striker Dexter Blackstock costing them around seven figures in wages and a pay-off.

Warne came close to a spectacular survival achievement on a much lower total last year.

This article first appeared in the Advertiser