ROCHDALE have enjoyed a major boost on the eve of the new season by announcing the biggest commercial deal in the club’s 109-year history.
Crown Oil have sponsored the League One club for four years but as well as continuing as Dale’s main shirt sponsor, they have now agreed stadium-naming rights for their Spotland ground. The five-year deal includes a six-figure investment and will see Spotland become known as the Crown Oil Arena.
Rochdale AFC regained full ownership of the ground in March after sharing it with the council and rugby league club Rochdale Hornets. The council relinquished their shares while Hornets agreed a long-term lease to continue playing their.
“Today is a landmark day for Rochdale Football Club and one which, at times over the past 10 years, I could only ever dream would happen,” said chairman Chris Dunphy.
Keith Hill took charge in December 2006 and after twice reaching the League Two play-offs, Dale ended their 41-year wait for promotion in 2010. After Hill left for Barnsley and Dale were relegated in 2012, Hill returned in January 2013 and took them back up to League One in 2014.
Dale have finished eighth and 10th the last two seasons and Hill has managed to keep a settled squad heading into the new campaign.
Grant Holt, Rhys Bennett and Michael Rose were released while Hill let Lewis Alessandra join Hartlepool. And although defenders Olly Lancashire and Ashley Eastham turned down new deals to join Shrewsbury and Fleetwood, respectively, Hill has made Niall Canavan’s loan move from Scunthorpe permanent.
He’s also picked up youngsters Harrison McGahey (Sheffield United) and Ollie Rathbone (Man. United) to complement those that have graduated from Dale’s own youth set-up, most notably Jamie Allen, Callum Camps and Andy Cannon, who all made over 20 league starts last term.
Dale won five of their pre-season friendlies, including a 3-0 win at FC United last Saturday, and kick off their campaign at home to Peterborough on Saturday.
Rochdale squad for 2016/17
Goalkeepers: Josh Lillis, Jonathan Diba, Steve Collis.
Defenders: Joe Rafferty, Scott Tanser, Jim McNulty, Niall Canavan, Harrison McGahey.
Midfielders: Jamie Allen, Matty Lund, Peter Vincenti, Callum Camps, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Andy Cannon, Donal McDermott, Brian Barry-Murphy, Ollie Rathbone.
Strikers: Ian Henderson, Calvin Andrew, Joe Bunney, Reuben Noble-Lazarus, James Hooper, Sanmi Odelusi.