John Ryan has hit back at suggestions his and Louis Tomlinson’s innovative crowd-funding trust is raising money for Rovers by exploiting the One Direction star’s young fans.
The Tomlinson Ryan Trust is aiming to raise £2 million through public donations, with set amounts earning rewards in return.
With Tomlinson’s fanbase largely made up of young girls, critics have questioned the morality of the scheme.
But Rovers co-owner Ryan dismissed concerns outright, insisting people have control over what they spend their money on.
“People do what they want to do,” Ryan told the Star.
“If they wanted to buy a Doncaster Rovers shirt because of Louis, they will anyway.
“Louis has said when he goes all over the world he sees Rovers shirts at his concerts. He mentioned seeing a few when he was in Australia last.
“What’s wrong with that?
“We’re not twisting people’s arms behind their backs.
“If they want to do it, they will. That’s the nature of life.”
It should be noted only those aged 18 and over can donate to the trust.
Suggested donations to the Trust range from £5 to £12,000 which would earn an executive box at the Keepmoat Stadium for a game with Tomlinson dropping in for a ten minute chat. So far two of these experiences have been paid for.
Other rewards available include video messages from Tomlinson, Ryan or Rovers boss Paul Dickov, t-shirts, a chance to take on Rovers’ reserve team and places on the club’s annual squad photo.
No money will be taken from donors unless the fund reaches the £2million by July 17, the day before official confirmation of Tomlinson and Ryan’s takeover of the club is due.
Fund administrators told the Star last week consideration has been given to extending the deadline.
With 17 days remaining, the fund is close to the £650,000 mark.
Ryan labelled the trust unique and says it should be exciting for Rovers to see so many people interested in getting involved with the club alongside Tomlinson.
He said: “It’s unique, I think.
“We’ve always had to think outside the box a bit at Doncaster Rovers because we’ve not got a big fanbase.
“But we hope in time we will have.
“People want to get involved with Louis.
“His great overriding passion is Doncaster Rovers. He wants us to be successful.
“If we can get people involved in that on a global basis, then that will be wonderful.”
Team boss Dickov is keen to ensure Rovers’ regular support are not forgotten with Tomlinson’s takeover but says it would be foolish not to take advantage of the international attention it has brought.
Dickov said: “The trust is money that will be going back into the club to create funds not just for the team but for the football club.
“It’s important that our supporters don’t get overtaken by what’s happened.
“We want to look after them first and foremost but we’d be stupid not to use the trust to try and build something, not just locally but internationally as well.
“It’s going to be beneficial for the club.
“Money that is made from it, a large proportion of it is going to go back into the playing budget, the club and the town.”