I am no fool and as such I realise that the level of tolerance and informed reasoning of your average local newspaper letters page will render it the print equivalent of Jeremy Kyle’s audience . But even with this in mind, its still hard not to be drawn to it. Its like a fire at a fireworks factory… you know you should stay away but you just can’t fight the natural urge to get closer and gawp. So, take this example, printed in yesterday’s Doncaster Free Press under the heading ‘Same Old Story Donny Rovers?’
I see some things never change re Doncaster Rovers, it’s the fans I feel sorry for. Time and time again they are fed the same old story, we’ve got no money. You’re not telling me they’ve got no money. Two final appearances, one at Cardiff and the other at Wembley, of which they won both, where did all the money go from those two games and TV rights when they have appeared on TV and Sky? £1.5 million from the sale of Richie Wellens and I don’t think that will be the end of the selling either.Then you pick the Doncaster Star up and lo and behold we will be looking for free transfer players while the likes of Rotherham are even strengthening their side, this a team that nearly folded last season. The difference is these clubs are willing to take a chance in the transfer market to get decent players and yes maybe go into debt but as the saying goes you get what you pay for.So just for once Mr Ryan think of all those fans who bought their season tickets early like you wanted them to, and you and your board of directors continue to sell your best players. I’m afraid it may come back to haunt you. As long as I have watched the Rovers they’ve always been the same for selling players and pleading poverty. I thought those days were over, but I fear not.Mr T Whitlam
Well, its safe to say that Mr Whitlam has got some nerve, I mean come on… writing to the Free Press and then referencing the Doncaster Star. In more specific context though Mr Whitlam’s letter shows what the club are up against and indeed the attitudes that current football hype has born, namely the belief that if you’re not throwing money at new players you’re not showing ambition.
Of course the reality is that the majority of the money the club have earnt in finals appearances etc has been invested in the current playing staff in terms of wages, and not forgetting the club transfer record that brought Matt Mills here last summer, what is looking like a bargain £300,000 (incidentally the same amount Mr Whitlam has haphazardly tagged onto Richie Wellens’ transfer value).
Of this letter the line which concerns me most is this one; “The difference is these clubs are willing to take a chance in the transfer market to get decent players and yes maybe go into debt but as the saying goes you get what you pay for“. Having seen three former Premier League sides relegated from the Championship last season and having also passed Leeds and Bradford on our way to this level you have to ask the question, are you paying attention at all? This club has been to the brink once, and such is the frailty of football finances below the Premier League that it would take little mis-management for it to happen again.
In the past ten years I have on occasion questioned the judgement and tact of John Ryan, but I have nothing but respect for what he has acheived for and with Doncaster Rovers and I have no doubt that he has done it for the right reasons. To opine that ‘just for once’ he ‘think[s] of the fans’ is frankly insulting as I believe there are few chairman out there who do so as much as he does.
The Rovers board are dealing in realism and to be honest the way football is at the moment that in its own is a God-send. Term it a lack of ambition if you like but I prefer to see it as the sensible management of this football club. I would be much happier with Rovers as a stable third tier club than one with debt and administration lingering at the stadium door like one of those odd looking fans who gets the players autographs… every week.
I know its a democracy, and Mr Whitlam is just expressing his view, but as he writes, ‘you get what you pay for’. So, if you throw-out irrational criticism then you should expect me to call you an idiot. If you want a team that is going to throw money about with no thoughts to the consequences Mr Whitlam there are plenty out there, but you should be thankful that your home town club currently isn’t one of them.