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Higgs: Rovers have hit rock bottom now

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 15, 2014

By ANDY STOCKHAUSEN

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs believes the club can bounce back next season  PICTURE: NEIL BROOKMAN/PINNACLE

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs believes the club can bounce back next season PICTURE: NEIL BROOKMAN/PINNACLE

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Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs admits the club have hit rock bottom, but insists that it will be in a position to bounce back next season.

Still coming to terms with the shockwaves created by relegation from the Football League, Higgs and his fellow directors have dusted themselves down and sought to address the immediate future.

The chairman acknowledges Rovers' best chance of regaining their Football League status is at the first attempt and he is promising to make funds available to boss Darrell Clarke to spend in the transfer market.

A budget has been agreed for next season and the process of player recruitment can begin.

Higgs said: "The next element of the process that we have discussed with the manager is recruitment for next season. Darrell is already coming up with lists of players and suggestions for playing staff and backroom staff to take us forward next year."

Higgs and his fellow directors are backing Clarke to lead the club in the Conference Premier next season and the chairman believes Rovers will have one of the biggest budgets outside of the Football league.

He added: "Darrell will have a very good budget for the Conference. I imagine it will be one of the highest. His intention is 100 per cent to bounce back in the first season.

"We will give him every opportunity and backing to make sure that happens. It has taken a bit longer than we had hoped to get information from the Conference and the (Football) League about parachute payments and future payments from the Conference, but we are now beginning to come together with that and we are producing what we hope will be a reasonable budget for next season."

Reflecting on the loss of the club's Football League status for the first time in 94 years, Higgs conceded relegation was hard to accept, but he remains bullish about the future and is urging everyone connected with the club to unite and adopt a positive approach.

He said: "It is still difficult to come to terms with what has happened, but we are where we are and we have to pick ourselves up and move forward. We have learned from our mistakes and there are things we would have done differently. We have hit rock bottom and now we have to think positively and pull together to take this club forward again."

The financial implications of relegation will require major restructuring and director of football John Ward, three members of the backroom staff and 12 players have departed already.

Further changes are inevitable as the board look closely at every aspect of the running of the club.

"There have been two main meetings and each board member has been tasked with looking at various aspects of the club," said Higgs.

"It is an evolving process and we are looking at every aspect of the club. We will not shirk that responsibility."

"When we have finished our evaluation we will be in a better situation to be able to comment on that."

Rovers are also inviting fans to have their say – less than 24 hours after silencing their official mouthpiece.

Club officials caused a storm of protest among supporters when suspending the fans forum on their official website on Tuesday.

In a move clearly intended to appease angry supporters, the board of directors are instead offering to stage regular fans' forums in the future.

The first of these is to be held at the Memorial Stadium at a date to be confirmed in July.

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