Paul Goodwin: John Ryan should not look gift horse in the mouth

Dons' player coach Paul Cooke
Dons' player coach Paul Cooke

Doncaster RLFC have become a model of consistency, on and off the pitch.

Sitting pretty in third in the Championship, the Dons are improving year-on-year. Behind the scenes, the club are well managed by Carl Hall. And, in Paul Cooke, they have one of the country’s most promising young coaches - who this week committed himself to the club until 2015.

The door to the Super League springs ajar next season, and Doncaster look set to be right in the mix.

However, after being bought by Doncaster Rovers last September, the Dons could be about to face an unexpected hurdle in their bid to progress even further - and it could potentially come from within.

Dons fans are bound to be keeping a very close eye on takeover developments at Rovers. Because, while Terry Bramall is understood to have more of a penchant for rugby, should John Ryan once again assume control of Rovers, you can be damn sure that he’ll want to put football first. It’ll beg the question, just where will that leave the Dons?

“I was annoyed that we shelled out nearly £100k to buy the rugby club,” fumed Ryan upon his resignation as Rovers chairman.

“Really? Rugby in Doncaster, no one’s interested. Paul Dickov should have had been given that money.”

Ryan’s reservations about taking on the Dons, and the drain it could potentially have on football resources, are crystal clear.

Since he stepped down, the Dons have flourished under the ‘Club Doncaster’ banner. They’ve streamlined their administrative operation and benefitted commercially as a direct result of the link with Rovers.

However, it’s what the Dons could potentially do for Rovers which Ryan must not forget. The football club now has a duty of care to one of the town’s other major sporting institutions. I wouldn’t recommend, nor would I expect, any hasty decisions. I also suspect ‘Club Doncaster’ is here to stay. And for him to put pen to paper this week, Paul Cooke must also be content with what’s going on behind the scenes at the Dons.

Above all else, Ryan should not look a potential gift horse in the mouth. If the Dons carry on improving at the rate they are doing, or better still reach the Super League, they could yet become a financial catalyst for the football operation. Dickov might get that money after all - with interest.