DONCASTER Rovers manager Dean Saunders has defended the decision to give football agent Willie McKay a major role in the club’s transfer policy.
McKay, who lives in Bawtry, has already helped Saunders bring three internationals – Pascal Chimbonda, Herita Ilunga and Chris Kirkland – to the Keepmoat Stadium while talks have been held with a string of other big names including strikers El Hadji-Diouf and Kanga Akale.
According to both Saunders and club chairman John Ryan, the plan gives Rovers – a non-league club just eight years ago – a far better chance of winning promotion to the Premier League.
A section of supporters, however, are still uncomfortable with McKay’s involvement and the idea of short-term signings using Rovers as a stepping stone to a bigger club.
Saunders said: “Willie McKay is trying to help us. He’s using all his contacts to try and get good players in. He puts players to me and if I like them we try and sign them.
“If he finds a player, I decide whether I want him. I will have the final say.” he stressed. “And if they come into this club and don’t buy into what I am doing – they are gone.”
McKay has spoken publically about a firm intention to make money from the current link-up but Rovers also stand to benefit financially.
Saunders said: “Let’s say, for example, we take a player from Marseille who’s looking to get in the Premiership. He will play for us in the ‘shop window’ and (if sold) we will get a percentage of his transfer fee.
“While he is here, we are not paying much of his wages and if that player is sold for £3m, we might get 40 per cent of the transfer fee. There will be lots of other clubs trying to do the same thing soon,” Saunders added. “We are in a recession and we have got to find ways of bringing money into the club.”
Rovers chairman Ryan told the Yorkshire Post that former manager Sean O’Driscoll refused to work with McKay.
O’Driscoll had been in charge five years but was sacked last month after a sequence of 19 league games without a win and with Rovers in trouble at the bottom of the Championship table.
Ryan was not prepared to lose the club’s Championship status and felt a ‘different approach’ to buying and selling was needed to help turn things around.
“I have worked my guts off for this club for 14 years and put more money in than anyone else,” said Ryan.
“But if we had kept on doing things the same way, we were going to be relegated, sooner or later, because too many other clubs in this division have infinitely more resources and a bigger fanbase.
“It was the only way I could think of staving off relegation and moving forward,” he said. “We feel this different approach will give us a chance to compete with the big boys in the league.”
Ryan confirmed that Rovers’ involvement with McKay has also been approved by the Football Association and that the Glaswegian will be paid only £100-a-week for his services.
“We have been honest and told everybody what we are doing,” said Ryan. “Willie McKay will make money but so will we. He’s been involved in over 500 transfers and his contacts are beyond belief.”
Rovers midfielder John Oster, meanwhile, faces three months out due to a neck injury.