DEFIANT Doncaster Rovers chairman John Ryan has given short shrift to the doom-mongerers predicting an instant return to League One for the club.
Rovers are rated as favourites for Championship relegation along with fellow promoted side Yeovil Town, with the stalling of takeover talks with Irish consortium Sequentia Capital – approached to invest in the club by Ryan in June – further hardening their odds with bookmakers.
Rovers, who welcome Blackpool this afternoon, had been linked with several big-name transfers, pending the completion of the takeover including former goal hero Billy Sharp and the Premier League duo of Shay Given and Stephen Ireland, but with that deal now on the back-burner, any successful moves look remote.
Despite the blow, Ryan is keeping steadfastly positive regarding Rovers’ hopes, with his glass still very much half-full. He is also mindful of how the Keepmoat Stadium outfit made the pundits tipping their demise in their first season in the second tier since 1958 in 2008-09 eat their words with they finished in 14th place.
This came after they looked down and out in December following a run of two wins in 20 games, only for the club to spectacularly defy the odds from Christmas onwards. Ryan is confident that they can survive and ultimately prosper again and that they possess the talent to stay up despite a slow summer of recruitment and achieve Championship consolidation.
He said: “We have got some exciting players. People moaned and groaned about the state of our squad last season and we won the league when a lot of people said we’d go down. We’ll have a go this year and be a surprise package.
“Success, in all fairness, would be consolidation. I’d like to think we can finish in the top half, but anywhere around the middle would be great – a tremendous achievement and then we can kick on from there.
“A lot will depend on whether players like Harry Forrester, Mark Duffy, Dean Furman, Copps (James Coppinger) and (David) Cotterill can produce in the Championship.
“We can’t buy top-line players, so we go for young players who we feel will be one day. I remember (Gary) Hooper playing down here one year for Scunthorpe.”
Ryan has issued an appeal for more supporters to fight the club’s corner at the Keepmoat this season. Last season’s average of under 7,000 was a disappointment, given that the club lifted the title.
He added: “It’s important (all) the people of Doncaster get behind a Championship football club. Our fan base is our big Achilles heel as it’s so tiny.
“We really have a League One/Two fan base but we’re working hard to pull it back.”