Richie Wellens on how deadline day panned out for Doncaster Rovers

Richie Wellens insists Doncaster Rovers did all they could on transfer deadline day to land the striker he desperately wanted.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:55 pm
Richie Wellens

After missing out on Will Grigg, Rovers looked to have secured a loan deal for his Sunderland team mate Aiden O’Brien, only for a paperwork error from the Black Cats side to cause the move to fall through.

“By nine o’clock, my thinking was that the deal was done and my job was done because I’d convinced the player to come,” Wellens told the Free Press.

“It was down to the two clubs to get the paperwork done and that is where it went on far too long. The biggest mistake in the end was that Sunderland put it through eight minutes too late.

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“Our paperwork went through seven minutes early so that was the biggest problem.

“If we’d have found out at seven o’clock that Aiden O’Brien wouldn’t have got done, then I could have moved onto other things.

“The fact it was so late meant we couldn’t get anyone in on deadline day.

“At nine o’clock, I still had two other options to go to. They weren’t ideal in terms of being inexperienced but they still have ability.

“But the fact that at nine o’clock we’d agreed and at ten o’clock we’d got all the paperwork, the player had the paperwork ready to sign and people were getting on with it, I have no need to go and look elsewhere.

“I genuinely believed at that point that the deal was going through.

“At quarter to 11, I’m obviously panicking and making other phonecalls about players who have at that point decided to stay at their clubs and there’s nothing else that we could have done about that.

“I wasn’t in a good place when I was driving back to the hotel at 12 o’clock.

“But when you wake up the next morning, I can’t let that disappointment spread to the players.”

Rovers appealed the decision to not allow the deal to go through but saw their objections rejected.

Though frustrated by the circumstances of the collapse of the move, Wellens admits he understands why the appeal was turned down.

He said: “Rules are rules and if you start breaking them or bending them for one club then it opens up a hell of a lot of stuff for others.

“The fact it wasn’t our fault is tough to take because we’d like the EFL to understand that we’d all done our jobs. It was signed and agreed before the deadline and we couldn’t control what the parent club did after we signed all our papers.”

Explaining how deadline day panned out, Wellens revealed the possibility of a move for O’Brien first came up in the evening, after Rovers had missed out on Grigg, who elected to join Rotherham United.

“We had a meeting in the morning and we planned what we would do and what time we’d do it at,” he said.

“Probably around two o’clock, our offer went in for Will Grigg. It was rejected.

“We went in with another offer that got accepted which matched another club’s offer.

“Then it was just about us trying to convince the player. I’d obviously spoken to him on numerous occasions and he was willing to come.

“It was just that a little bit previous he’d had a conversation with Rotherham who only came in for him that day and he decided to go to Rotherham.

“We moved onto a couple more that didn’t really progress financially the way we wanted it to happen.

“And then we found out Aiden O’Brien was available. He’d been right at the top of our list from the very start but the conversations we’d had were that he was never available.

“He was then available at about six o’clock. By nine o’clock I’d spoken to the player and he’d agreed to come. I’d spoken to Sunderland and we’d agreed a deal.”

Rovers did bring in Newcastle United attacking midfielder Rodrigo Vilca on loan on deadline day but Wellens says he is still short on the options he needs as he seeks to bring in free agents in the coming days.


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.