£24m bid rejection ‘best for everyone’ at Rovers

David Wheater, right
David Wheater, right
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DONCASTER ROVERS’ major shareholder Terry Bramall insists the club will press ahead with building a self-sustainable future at the Keepmoat Stadium after snubbing investment worth £24m from Sequentia Capital.

After several weeks of negotiations, Rovers yesterday rejected a takeover bid from the Irish-based consortium – who had submitted a revised offer – stating it to be in the “best interests of all its stakeholders” for the club to stay under their control.

Bramall told the Yorkshire Post that the Rovers board remain committed to the club, in the lower reaches of the Championship, and are determined to make it a success on and off the pitch.

He went on to reveal that spending on the playing budget has surpassed levels set in the summer.

The Rovers board yesterday sanctioned a deal to bring in young Aston Villa left-back Enda Stevens on an emergency loan until January 1, with manager Paul Dickov having received knockbacks in his quest to bring in top-flight defenders David Wheater and George McCartney ahead of the 5pm loan deadline.

Bramall, instrumental in the club pushing through a deal to purchase Doncaster RLFC as part of a vision to build a wider sporting hub in the town, said: “At the moment (the takeover) it’s off and we will continue with our plans that we have expressed before.

“Results on the pitch have not been great, but developments at the club have been going well. The mood is upbeat and the staff are pleased it’s staying with us.

“We set our budgets and hope to keep it going and our objective is to make everything sustainable. Then that makes it more attractive to any prospective purchasers and our successors.

“We have budgets and Paul knows what they are and knew what they were when he came.

“There’s no change in that; if anything we have slightly exceeded the budget we have set.

“We are doing our best with the club and will keeping working at it. We’ve a really committed crew down there.”

Sequentia spokesperson Kevin Phelan and former Rovers chairman John Ryan have put partisanship aside to wish the club well although Phelan insists Sequentia will be watching developments closely with the story “not yet over”.

Following Ryan’s resignation from the Rovers board and as chairman earlier this month, a deal for his major shareholding of 23 per cent was concluded with Sequentia.

With several minor shareholders assigning their shares to Ryan, the upshot was that Sequentia technically became the club’s largest individual shareholder with an estimated 31 per cent shareholding.

The consortium also say they have since purchased the shares of another minor shareholder in Peter Wetzel.

But the club say they have not been advised that Sequentia have acquired Ryan’s shares or been asked to authorise it.

Phelan insists that there are “no sour grapes” regarding the rejection of the offer from his consortium, who have had enquiries from other football clubs regarding investment since entering into talks to purchase Rovers.

The Sequentia board are to take stock of yesterday’s developments at Rovers, he said.

Phelan, who met with David Blunt, representative of the club’s major shareholders Bramall and Dick Watson, on Wednesday, added: “I wish the club the best. We really tried to make a deal happen and it didn’t happen. Having said that, in my view, I don’t think it’s over.

“At least, if they invest in the club going forward, it’s a win-win. If they don’t, the club will be under serious pressure at the bottom of the league.

“After putting a good deal on the table, it would be very sad if the club got relegated.

“David said that Terry would like to get more involved with the club himself now that John Ryan has left the party. Fine, if that’s the case and the club gets investment, a positive has come out of it.

“I think we put forward a good deal. At the end of the day, we were definitely intent on doing a deal to take Doncaster onto the next level. I want to wish the club and the existing shareholders all the best, bearing in mind we are significant shareholders and we are here to help if we are wanted.

“But at the end of the day, the person who needs the help is Paul Dickov – and fast.

“But there’s no sour grapes here. We put our best foot forward and it wasn’t acceptable.

“During the process, we’ve had approaches from other clubs. We spent a lot of time and energy on trying to get the deal done (at Doncaster).

“The funds are sitting there in the bank. I showed them (the club) confirmation of the statement that we had £24m in the bank and that was acknowledged. They were the funds for the project.”

Echoing Phelan’s thoughts, Ryan said: “I sincerely hope they put some investment in to give the club a good chance to escape relegation and back a good up-and-coming manager.

“Sometimes, you have to be magnanimous and wish people all the best. At the end of the day, I am still a Donny Rovers fan.

“To be honest, I am finding it a bit of a relief to have the (chairman’s) mantle taken from me after 15 years.

“I hope they have as much success as I did. At least it’s been resolved one way or the other.

“I never really wanted to come back anyway as I am finding it a lot more stress-free. I didn’t realise the stress I was under until I left. I am really happy being away from the firing line.”