Exclusive: John Ryan confirms Doncaster Rovers exit

John Ryan
John Ryan

John Ryan has issued a statement confirming his exit from Doncaster Rovers.

The former chairman - who oversaw what he calls a ‘golden decade’ in the club’s history - says he has given up his 24 per cent stake in Rovers.

Ryan says he has also written off his loans - worth in the region of £4 million - in a move that formally brings to an end his long and eventful association with his hometown club.

In typical ‘rallying call’ fashion, Ryan has also urged Rovers fans to get behind co-owners Terry Bramall and Dick Watson but tells supporters to “be patient”.

“I am very proud of my 15 years as chairman,” said Ryan in a statement.

“First saving the club from oblivion and fulfilling my four promises, namely: returning the football club to the league, building a new stadium, getting to a major cup final and returning the club to the second tier.

“The standout moments for me were beating Leeds United at Wembley, Bristol Rovers at the Millennium and beating Manchester City and Aston Villa before going out to Arsenal on penalties in the League Cup. Brentford wasn’t bad either.

“Four promotions, one cup and one relegation in ten years will always be a golden decade for Rovers.

“I have now handed my shares and loans back to the club I love and know that Terry and Dick will do a splendid job. They have both put considerable amounts of money into the club and it’s now up to the fans to back them to the hilt.

“I have supported the club since 1958 and only wish it success for the future. I ask the fans to be patient and thank them for their brilliant support I received over my years as chairman.

Photo by Steve Uttley.

Photo by Steve Uttley.

“Onwards and upwards - John Ryan.”

It is understood both Bramall and Watson’s respective stakes in Rovers, as well as that belonging to chairman David Blunt, have increased as a result of Ryan handing back his shares, which could give the former Keepmoat magnates more incentive to invest in the club.

The cancellation of Ryan’s loans also reduces the club’s debt.

A deal between Ryan and the club’s owners is thought to have been effectively signed and sealed back in December but was held up by complex legal matters prior to the release of today’s statement.

Ryan’s statement also attempts to draw a line under his somewhat turbulent last few years at the club. He faced heavy criticism by a section of supporters for the now infamous ‘experiment’ which followed Sean O’Driscoll’s dismissal in 2011, and later resigned as chairman after claiming Blunt went behind his back during takeover negotiations with Sequentia Capital in 2013, which also led to a very public falling out with Bramall.

Ryan himself fuelled speculation that he was about to cut his ties with Rovers earlier this year when he bid fans “a fond farewell” on Facebook in February, although he denied at the time that he was about to sell his stake.

He said he was “finished with football” after his and One Direction star Louis Tomlinson’s attempted takeover collapsed at the last minute last summer.

Twelve months previously Sequentia Capital’s bid to buy the club - which Ryan had spoken out in favour of - also failed to materialize. He resigned as chairman in November, 2013.

Doncaster Rovers have since issued a statement saying: “The owners and the board of Doncaster Rovers would like to thank John Ryan for his time, commitment and professionalism in driving this club forward during his reign here which has now come to a close.

“John has made the decision to end his time with the club. We, as a board, are keen for you all to know that John Ryan remains a friend of us all and of Doncaster Rovers Football Club.

“The commitment of the board to the success of the club and to act in the interests of our wonderful supporters continues as we now actively look to develop the infrastructure of the first team, the youth and development, the matchday showcase and the brand of Club Doncaster. We have something very unique here and we are actively working on making the fundamental changes required to take this club to the next level, both on and off the pitch.

“This is the start of a new era and we are immensely excited about it.”

Ryan is expected to referee at least part of James Coppinger’s ‘Legends’ game on Sunday, April 19, in what now could be his final public appearance at the Keepmoat Stadium.

He is then likely to concentrate his efforts on his cosmetic surgery business MYA.

Related links:

John Ryan bids ‘fond farewell’ to fans on Facebook

John Ryan just can’t get Doncaster Rovers out of his system