Rover & out: Free Press comment on Doncaster Rovers’ relegation to League One

Rovers' fans look glum after defeat against Portsmouth has left them relagated. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' fans look glum after defeat against Portsmouth has left them relagated. Picture: Andrew Roe

THE winds of change are set to sweep through Doncaster Rovers like never before.

With no fewer than 20 members of the current squad out of contract in June, there will be a huge turnover of players this summer.

With John Ryan as the ‘last man standing’, there could be yet more changes in the boardroom.

And there simply has to be a change to the losing mind-set that has made the last 16 months the most miserable in the club’s post Ken Richardson era.

A paltry ten Championship wins since the turn of 2011 tells you why Rovers find themselves back in League One.

Something has to change.

But in a paradox that spells out the difficulty of the job in hand for Dean Saunders - Doncaster Rovers also desperately need stability.

Not since Richardson attempted to burn down Belle Vue have the Rovers endured a campaign quite like the one that will bring the curtain down on their Championship chapter.

It got off on the wrong foot when Billy Sharp left the Amex on a stretcher.

It is ending with their pride battered and bruised - and the club’s finances in a bad way.

Something has to change.

There was an irony that Rovers’ first port of call following confirmation of their relegation was Middlesbrough.

On the final day of the 2010/11 season Sean O’Driscoll sat in the Riverside Stadium press room and stunned the assembled media.

O’Driscoll wanted to rebuild the club and if they ended up in League One as a result of the restructuring, so be it.

O’Driscoll wanted things to change.

But when he told the press he would accept relegation if the club’s identity remained intact, it was a statement that did not rest easy with Ryan.

Relegation was simply not on the agenda.

Yet the change that Rovers apparently needed came in the form of the Willie McKay Project.

It was radical, not wholly popular, and it ultimately failed.

Now the club must embark on the rebuilding job that O’Driscoll first mooted almost two years ago.

And it will not be an easy task for Saunders, who will see his playing budget slashed and who will be unable to call upon luxury loan players.

Change, in essence, has been forced upon the manager and the club this summer.

And the club has a responsibility to make sure that the changes they make are changes for the better.

The short term vision of the McKay Project has to be replaced by a long term strategy that will secure the future of Doncaster Rovers.

It is time for things to change.