Congrats Louis! I’m so happy and proud of you.
Louis Tomlinson has followed in the footsteps of celebrity football club owners such as Elton John and Delia Smith by announcing a deal to buy the League One side Doncaster Rovers.
The One Direction singer, who completed a deal to take over the club alongside the former chairman John Ryan, immediately launched a crowdfunding campaign hoping to attract £2m to bring Premier League success to his beloved team. It is thought to be one of the biggest crowdfunding initiatives launched in the UK.
“For me, this is all about the football, the community and restoring the excitement and desire to making Doncaster Rovers the most exciting club to play for in Yorkshire,” Tomlinson said. “I want to see the Doncaster Rovers supporters get the club the success it deserves.
“I grew up in Doncaster and have felt the love for football run through the town, it’s for that reason that I have a real personal passion to make Doncaster Rovers a success story.”
The Tomlinson Ryan Trust is putting in a six-figure sum as part of the campaign to show the pair’s commitment.
Tomlinson, 22, played for the club’s reserve side against Barnsley this year and had been close to a takeover before, but a move was twice delayed because of negotiations over image rights.
Ryan, 52, who ended his 15-year association with Rovers in November after overseeing the club’s rise from non-league to the Championship and their move from Belle Vue to Keepmoat Stadium, is likely to be the more hands-on partner.
He has also played for Doncaster, having brought himself on as a substitute in a 4-2 win against Hereford after the club sealed promotion from the Conference in 2003.
Tomlinson will hope to follow the example of Elton John, who became chairman and director of Watford in 1976 and presided over the most successful era in the club’s history. Although he has now sold the club, he continues to hold a significant shareholding and remains its lifelong president.
Delia Smith is the majority shareholder in Norwich City. During half-time of a match against Manchester City in 2005, with the club sliding towards relegation, she memorably grabbed the on-pitch announcer’s microphone and implored of the fans: “Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be ‘aving you!”
Many of One Direction’s army of teenage fans will not be able to offer their support to the crowdfunding campaign – donations are only accepted from people who are aged over 18.
Last month One Direction were named fourth in the Sunday Times Rich List of young musicians with an estimated fortune of £14m each and a combined wealth of £70m.
Ryan said it was an exciting moment. By setting up the trust, launching the crowdfunding campaign and putting in money, he said, “we are making it clear to Doncaster Rovers supporters and the general public that we are planning to give the club the support and resources it needs”.