Rotherham United Commercial Director Steve Coakley has been recognised by the EFL with an award to celebrate him approaching 30 years of working in professional football.
Supporters and sponsors alike will know of Steve’s friendly face from his 11 years of service with the Millers across two spells, during which he has helped the club move into their new stadium at AESSEAL New York Stadium whilst also forging countless significant business relationships, in turn, generating millions of pounds in revenue.
His journey spans over 28 years having taken his first footsteps in the game with his boyhood club Derby County at just 16-years-old.
Steve is an incredibly highly-thought of member of staff here at AESSEAL New York Stadium and is not only an asset to our commercial team, but is also a person who embodies the culture which runs throughout the club.
It is a fitting character reference, therefore, that he was heavily involved in the brand update which saw the ‘Forever Together, Forever Proud’ tagline introduced across our website, social media channels and indeed, throughout the entirety of the Rotherham United ‘image’ a few years ago.
Steve initially joined the club whilst the Millers were at Don Valley Stadium and during that time, he gave the club’s commercial wing a new lease of life, ensuring the continuation of corporate relationships during a critical transitional period for the club.
His second spell coincided with the early years of the club’s return to Rotherham and the brand new AESSEAL New York Stadium and with Chairman Tony Stewart keen to uphold the ambitious image and upward trajectory both on and off the pitch, Steve once again took up the top job in the Millers’ commercial department.
Since then, he has played a pivotal role in the continued development of the club’s corporate hospitality and has overseen a number of projects to improve the look and feel of the Millers’ home, including the installation of a big screen and, more recently, LED advertising boards.
Not one to take the credit for his successful ventures, Steve is a silent driving force behind so much of what happens at the club, taking note of feedback from supporters along the way to tailor first team kit choices among other projects to meet the demand from the fanbase.
Furthermore, he oversees a hard-working and passionate workforce across a number of departments including the club’s retail, ticketing and marketing staff, as well as those who fall under the commercial umbrella.
Steve has worked tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic to not only support colleagues and help in other areas of the club whilst it was operating on a reduced staff base, but has continued to look into new and innovative ways to generate income.
Virtual matchday sponsorships have continued to provide the club with key income streams during a time when so much of our normal revenue has been lacking, whilst he has also been behind an increase in the club’s social media output this season which has provided further sponsorship opportunities for local businesses.
As a result of his day-to-day responsibilities and him sitting on the Board of Directors, Steve maintains a close relationship with Chairman Tony Stewart, who was thrilled to see his efforts commemorated by the EFL with this prestigious award.
“For me, Steve Coakley’s contribution to Rotherham United is clear for all to see and so much of what we have achieved here off-the-field has come as a bi-product of his innovative thinking and dedicated approach to his work,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“Steve is a person who symbolises the characteristics that we pride ourselves on as a club; he is ambitious, forward-thinking and incredibly hard-working."
“Football is an ever-evolving industry and for Steve to have been involved for nearly 30 years, climbing his way to the top of his field in the process, is proof in itself of his abilities.
“I said words to a similar effect when Matt Crooks was crowned the Player of the Month recently, but these achievements should be celebrated. As the Chairman of this club, it makes me immensely proud to see people both on and off the pitch being recognised by the EFL for their success and awards of this prestige being presented to people at Rotherham United should not be underestimated.
“On behalf of everyone at Rotherham United, the Board, and I am sure all of the clubs that Steve has worked for, I would like to congratulate him for his success in the game so far and add that I am already excited for what the future holds as we continue to work together.”
After learning of the news that his near-30 years of service in the game were to be recognised, the Millers’ commercial director was quick to express his gratitude, whilst pointing to the contributions of the many people that he has encountered along the way in his professional and personal life for his continued success.
“I am incredibly grateful to have received recognition for my years in football so far, but I must add that I feel very privileged to have been involved in an industry that I am genuinely passionate about for such a long time."
“As is always the case in this game there have been plenty of ups and downs but I have learned so much from them along the way and even after nearly 30 years the learning process is far from complete.
“From the beginning of my journey when I was just 16 and given the opportunity by Michael Dunford - who was the General Manager at Derby County at the time - I have had the pleasure of working with and for many good people who have not only enriched my experience but helped to shape my path along the way.
“You can only enjoy this sort of longevity in an industry if you are supported and backed by the people who have a big influence within your life and I feel very lucky to have had that throughout my years in the game.”
EFL Chief Executive Trevor Birch reaffirmed that Steve’s many years in the industry have not gone unnoticed by the wider footballing community, placing on record his congratulations to him for a highly-successful spell in the game spanning just shy of three decades so far.
“Steve is an extremely well respected commercial operator and valued member of the EFL community, having built up an excellent reputation across various levels of the game in a career spanning nearly three decades."
“During this time Steve has amassed incredible knowledge, insight and experience of all three EFL divisions plus the Premier League and the EFL is delighted to be able recognise his impressive service and contribution to our industry.
“Aside from the posts he has held at Clubs, he has also played a significant role on various committees and on behalf of the EFL, I would like to thank Steve for his efforts and wish him continued success for many years to come.”
Everyone at Rotherham United would like to congratulate Steve on receiving this recognition and thank him for his many, many years of service to our club and within the EFL.