Doncaster Rovers: Ryan calls for a dose of reality

Doncaster Rovers Gavin Baldwin and John Ryan talk about the future of the club at a meeting. Picture: Andrew Roe
Doncaster Rovers Gavin Baldwin and John Ryan talk about the future of the club at a meeting. Picture: Andrew Roe

John Ryan says it is time for realism as Rovers head for life in the Championship.

Takeover talk and rumoured £20m investment raised suggestions Rovers could be boasting the likes of Billy Sharp and Shay Given as they challenged at the top end of the division.

But a deal over a change of ownership has failed to materialise with Rovers – for now at least – sticking to the status quo as one of the Championship’s more humble members.

And chairman Ryan says the priority now is simple: consolidation.

“Let’s be honest, let’s live in the real world, I think success would be consolidation,” Ryan told the Star.

“Us, Yeovil and Barnsley are being tipped to go down by everyone.

“Barnsley seem to escape it every year – I don’t think they’ve ever been higher than about 19th.

“At least we had a bit of a go the last time we we’re in the Championship and managed to finish 11th or 12th.

“I’d like to think we could finish in the top half again but anywhere around the middle would be a tremendous achievement and we could kick of from there.

“It depends very much if players like Harry Forrester, Mark Duffy, Dean Furman, David Cotterill and James Coppinger can produce the goods in the Championship.

“Some of them have been there before some of them haven’t.

“We’ll have a good go this season and we could very well be a surprise package.

“People will probably underestimate us and that’ll be our strength.”

Business has been slow for Rovers over the summer with the senior squad far from being the ideal size heading into the new season.

But Ryan says supporters should realise the club is still in a golden period and enjoy it.

He said: “We’ve never been as successful as we are right now. For the majority of time that I’ve supported this club we’ve had hardly any success.

“We’re going to see some great teams down here this season and we’ll give them a good go – even fancy-dans QPR with their £150m wage bill.

“The fans should keep the faith because they’ve had a great ride.

“Just look at our recent success compared to big clubs like Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.

“It’s important the people of Doncaster get behind their Championship football club.”

Supporter numbers continue to be a major concern for Rovers’ chairman and he believes the size of the fan base is restricting the club.

Ryan said: “Our big Achilles heel is our fan base because it’s so tiny.

“We’ve ended up with a League One or Two fan base because a lot of it was destroyed during the Richardson era and five years in the non-league. But we’re working hard to build it back up.”

Ryan may have had to deal with disappointment as takeover talks hit the buffers but he remains optimistic as Saturday’s big kick off against Blackpool approaches.

He said: “I’m looking forward to Saturday and seeing some quality players playing for Doncaster Rovers.

“I don’t think the fans will be disappointed with what they see.

“And I think we’ve got a quality manager who is working his butt off to get things as right as he possibly can.”