Last year, The News revealed that the Wessex League Premier Division club had spent around £300,000 on bringing their ground up to its current level.
Of that, £93,500 had been donated by the Football Foundation, an official charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and government.
Now chairman Steve Cripps has revealed that brand new changing rooms will be installed in the summer of 2023. At present, there are portacabin-type facilities at the clubhouse end of the pitch.
The new changing rooms project will cost around £150,000, with Baffins applying to the Football Foundation for a third of that money.
‘We’ve got planning permission for the new changing rooms and they should be going up next summer (2023),’ said Cripps.
‘We might look to increase the seats in the stand, and we want to do a bit more work on the pitch.
‘We could then be in a position to concentrate solely on the team in two years' time.’
Baffins moved into their current ground on the Eastern Road at the start of 2015/16, when they were still playing in the Hampshire Premier League. Previously, they played on the adjoining pitch.
Cripps last week appointed Danny Thompson as Baffins manager following Shaun Wilkinson’s resignation. Thompson, a former Fleetlands and Infinity boss, had been Wilkinson’s assistant since May 2020.
The chairman admits the infrastructure has to be right at Rovers before he will create a larger, potentially promotion-winning budget for Thompson or whoever is manager at the time.
‘I don’t want to be throwing money at it until everything is right off the field,’ he stated. ‘We’re in a good position financially, we’re not relying on any loans.’
When asked if promotion to the Southern League remains his overall ambition, Cripps replied: ‘Definitely. But I’m not sure there are any aspirations to go higher. We would need to do well just to stay in it.’
Talking to The News about the factors behind his departure, Wilkinson said he thought he ‘wanted it quicker than the club’ with regards promotion.
That appears the case. Unlike Wilkinson, Cripps is in no huge hurry to reach the next level. ‘Last season the target was a top eight finish, and we finished eighth,’ he said. ‘If we were to finish seventh next year, so be it. If we were to finish a bit lower, I wouldn’t be too fazed.’
Baffins have only ever completed three full seasons in the Wessex Premier since winning promotion from Division 1 at the first attempt in 2016/17. The highest they have finished is fifth under Steve Leigh in 2018/19, the same season they won the Wessex League Cup and reached the last 32 of the FA Vase.