Rovers face Yeovil on TV tonight
22 November ~ When Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town take to the field live on television tonight a notable set of glinting white teeth will be missing from the Keepmoat Stadium. Ahead of the club's last match away at Barnsley, and after 15 years at the helm, John Ryan resigned from his position as club chairman. Ryan, somewhat typically, did not go quietly. In a statement delivered via an unofficial supporters' group, and in the post-match press conference at Oakwell, he delivered some notable parting shots.
They were fired in the direction of fellow director Terry Bramall, who he felt had been stalling over potential investment from a group calling themselves Sequentia Capital.
Described as an Irish consortium or a Belize-based hedge fund, Sequentia Capital are reportedly ready to put in anything between £5 million and £40m immediately or over five years. They may have Ryan's approval, but without clear answers on who they are and what they want, the unwillingness of the rest of the board to snap Sequentia's hand off has been welcomed by the Supporters Trust. Unfortunately Ryan's parting demonisation of Bramall has seen a complex debate degenerated into a "him or me" popularity contest among much of the club's support with the Trust themselves vilified for treading with caution.
This week Sequentia told the Yorkshire press that they had acquired Ryan's shares in the club, but that their involvement was dependent on Ryan returning as chairman. "Doncaster Rovers without John Ryan is like Hamlet without the prince," said frontman Kevin Phelan in a peculiar analogy. Nonetheless, Ryan inherited a shambles of a non-League club in 1998, stabilised it and put it in a position to grow. That a quarter of the sides which Rovers faced during their five seasons in the Conference no longer exist highlights just how different things could have been without Ryan's support.
Tonight's opponents Yeovil are one of the few Conference foes to have prospered. And while it is great to see a club Rovers once battled with in the FA Trophy similarly sticking it to the big boys, there will be an element of trepidation ahead of the match for Rovers supporters. They may be bottom of the Championship but Yeovil are Rovers' bogey team, having only lost once to Doncaster in their last 16 meetings.
After progressing from non-League to the second tier these two clubs now face a very difficult challenge, finding ways to hang on to teams of already greater resources dangling from Premier League parachute payments. Ryan's push for Sequentia's involvement follows Rovers' gamble with Willie McKay's shop window approach to player recruitment in 2011-12. Yeovil meanwhile have attempted to swell their support by auditioning for their own girl band. Rovers are in no position to mock of course, they have a member of One Direction in their No 28 shirt. The Conference has never felt further away. Glen Wilson