ONE Direction star Louis Tomlinson has claimed he was “misled” over his efforts to step in to take over Doncaster Rovers, of whom he has been a lifelong fan.
He said he was “absolutely gutted” that the deal for the League One side appears not to be going ahead, but said he still aims to help the club succeed.
In a message to fans posted online, Tomlinson said he insisted he would not benefit financially from the club if the deal had occurred.
The singer announced last month, after weeks of speculation, that he was teaming up with businessman John Ryan and their takeover was expected to be formalised today.
But efforts to raise enough cash for the deal - through the Crowdfunder.co.uk website - have faltered with only £757,796 of the £2 million target raised by yesterday’s deadline from 514 backers.
A statement issued yesterday by the Tomlinson Ryan Trust, established by the pair, said the failure to reach their target meant they were unable to meet the Football League’s “fit and proper” test for club ownership.
In a series of posts online, Tomlinson wrote: “I’m absolutely gutted the Doncaster Rovers deal is not going ahead. I am desperate for the club to be given the recognition it deserves.
“I was explicitly told that the deal to buy the club was not dependent on the money raised by Crowdfunding. Unfortunately I was misled.
“My passion for Doncaster Rovers remains as strong as ever, and I hope that I can still be involved with the club moving forward.
“And to all the Doncaster Rovers fans , I will do all in my power to help the club succeed. I really do love the club.”
Tomlinson added: “For the record, I insisted contractually I would never earn a penny from DRFC. I simply wanted to help club and community. Still hoping I can.”
He and Ryan hosted a press conference last month outlining their plans for the takeover and launching the crowd-funding bid.
Those who have pledged cash will not lose out as they do not have to pay up if a project does not meet its target under Crowdfunder’s rules.
A spokesman for the investment site said: “Crowdfunder is an all-or-nothing model. If a project doesn’t reach its target, no money is taken from backers.”
The Trust’s statement yesterday said takeover was in “serious doubt”, although it had previously stated that would take place irrespective of the success or failure of its crowd-funding project.
Ryan stepped down as Doncaster chairman in November ending a 15-year association with Rovers. He is understood to have met with Football League representatives this week in a bid to reassure them he and Tomlinson had the finances to run the club.
In interview with BBC Radio Sheffield yesterday he said was sorry the crowd-funding had failed but added: “The real problem is with the Football League. They have made it so difficult now that unless you have a bag full of cash you are going to get turned down.”