Howard Gayle believes long-term planning, rather than simply chasing the ‘golden egg’ that is the Premier League, is the best course of action for Rovers.

The popular forward was part of a Rovers side whose own chase for the top flight saw them miss out in the play-offs on three separate occasions before a successful bid in 1991/92.

And Gayle believes the club’s ability to produce homegrown talent can prove key in their long-term development and ending their top-flight exile.

“I think Rovers have to build a culture and have a plan of where they want to be in five years, rather than chasing the golden egg of the Premier League and what comes with that,” said Gayle, who played 144 times and scored 34 goals between 1987 and 1992.

“If you’re not prepared for the Premier League, I don’t think financially, but on a development basis at a club like Rovers, if you have the right coaches and the right players who are coming through, it’s achievable.

“Rovers have a long history and tradition in football and ways of tapping in to some of the best young talent in the country.

“I think the future development of this club has to have a long-term impact rather than the short-term.”

Gayle was back at Ewood Park as part of a Show Racism The Red Card event, providing education workshops to more than 100 primary school children from across East Lancashire.

While Gayle, now 61, was warned against making the switch to Rovers in the late 1980s, he says he couldn’t have made a better decision and was grateful to the support he received.

“This was probably the most successful spell I had in football here at Rovers and it still holds a strong place in my heart,” he added.

“I love this place. The people were brilliant here in how they got behind me and supported me.

“A lot of people told me not to come here but I had to find out for myself and those people were wrong. The fans, the club, everyone here got behind me, and other black players who were here, Tony Finnigan, Lenny Johnrose.

“It was a pleasurable time and somewhere I enjoy coming back to. It’s always been that type of club. The fans know the difference between someone who is playing for the money and someone who is playing for them.

“We played in an era where we adopted this. The support we had was seven or 8,000 every week and they got behind us and when you have that type of support you can achieve anything.

“We got to the play-offs time and again on a low budget, but we had a great support and a great changing room with some really good players.”

Rovers defender Tosin Adarabioyo was also present at the event, taking part in a question and answer session, with Gayle’s affiliation with the organisation spanning almost 30 years. And he says the work is more important now than it ever has been.

“The game is so big that it’s about education and trying to change that mindset of all cultures, not just the white culture, to be more tolerant and accepting of each other,” Gayle explained.

“Football seems to get the job done, it brings people together, it’s a universal sport that’s played on a global basis.

“I made the point that when I first came here it was great to see Asian and white Rovers fans celebrating and supporting their team together.

“It’s never been a football issue, that’s something we need to make clear. Someone can come to a football match on a Saturday afternoon and sit there for 90 minutes but then go out of the ground and shout whatever they want around controversial or racist issues.

“Football does more than governments, councils, communities, politicians, to try and make its stadia and the places around it safe places to come and watch and enjoy a game of football.

“It’s getting this programme in to education. We’ve been doing this for over 25 years and face new challenges every year.

“The problems that Raheem Sterling had at Chelsea, the stuff in Bulgaria, so we’re still revisiting issues. It’s about education and changing a culture of young people.

“There’s no use looking at 17 or 18-year-olds, they have got that collusion mindset of who they are, what they want to be and where they want to go.

“Young children are really affected by the education, but also knowing that there are support mechanisms for them so they know they can be in a safe place where they can complain about racist issues and comments.”