Poor headline, relatively interesting content. Over the past week or so a couple of people of particualr interest to Rovers fans; John Ryan and Richie Wellens have had their opinions published in the media. First off John Ryan who was interviewed in a national newspaper at the end of last month, though as it was in The Sun, it completely passed us by. Anyway if you also missed it we’ve a reasonable digest here. Amidst the usual soundbites about the state of the club five years ago and lazy journalistic box ticking on the subject of Melinda Messenger JR actually made some wholesome and agreeable points on the subjects of football club ownership.
“I would say this, but it is far better that you have people [owning football clubs] who are genuine supporters of a club.” Ryan told The Sun. “You wouldn’t be owner of Doncaster Rovers for the glory, would you? When I took over, it was a non-league club. I’ve done it because it’s my team. That’s the best motivation. Doncaster is run carefully and we don’t overspend. If there is a shortfall, we know it is us directors who pick up the tab but we do not go crazy.”
John Ryan then turned his attention to (or perhaps was steered onto the subject of) the new breed of multi-millionaire club owners. “If I was a Man City fan, I’d think ‘Great, fantastic.’ But what happens if the Arabs ever pull the plug? What happens with Notts County? Abramovich at Chelsea? Football has to ensure if foreign owners come in, the money is put in as share capital and not handed out in loans. If it is loans, they could destroy the club on leaving. Also, if these Premier League clubs sign players on £150,000 a week, there should be guidelines in place for if the owner disappears and the club is left with a massive problem. Even Manchester United are in massive debt. I’m not a fan of Michel Platini but, in many ways, he is right about debt in English football. There are some very good foreign owners like Randy Lerner at Aston Villa but you only have to look at Portsmouth to see the other side of the coin. I really worry for them.”
Also discussed was the nature and credentials of club owners; “I was a director for five years but along came a chap called Ken Richardson who I could not abide. I got out and he got someone to try and burn the stadium down and got four years for his troubles. Now there is this fit-and-proper person test. But if Thaksin Shinawatra didn’t fail the test, I don’t know if Flavio Briatore does. I know that Lord Mawhinney is looking into it but Briatore may decide to go anyway as I don’t know if he’s that bothered.”
Often outspoken and media willing it would be very easy for Ryan to topple into the category of trigger happy empirical chairmen but his attitude towards football managers is welcome and refreshing; “The most important thing is to appoint a good manager and stick with him. We’ve had Sean O’Driscoll for the last three years and, remarkably, he is already one of the longest serving in the Championship. It is also very important for managers to be left alone to manage. It does happen that certain directors and chairmen get involved and try to start picking the team but we are not one of them. It will never work.”
Another Rovers related name to be interviewed recently was former midfielder Richie Wellens, who appeared on the cover of the latest edition of Leicestershire publication Soar Magazine. Understandably the interview was heavily weighted towards Wellens’ expectations and aims for Leicester City and his formative years at Manchester United but there were a couple of points that will be of interest for Rovers fans.
Asked which spell of his career he had enjoyed the most so far Wellens answered “Playing for Doncaster was also good for me. We played some great football and were successful as well. The highlight of my career so far is probably winning the play-off final with Doncaster at Wembley.” Wellens also declared that he had spoken to both Wolves and Birmingham about a possible Premier League move; “Wolves and Birmingham were interested this summer. I spoke with both clubs and they both said that they wanted to get players with Premier League experience in first, which is understandable, and that if I was prepared to wait then something might happen.”
You can read the Richie Wellens interview in full on the Soar Magazine website