One Direction singer and new Doncaster Rovers co-owner Louis Tomlinson says it is an “absolute honour” to be taking over his home town club and is targeting promotion to the Barclays Premier League.
Twenty-two-year-old Tomlinson, who is one of five members of the hugely successful boy band, announced the takeover together with former chairman John Ryan on Thursday.
Tomlinson is a Rovers fan and will share the ownership 50-50 with Ryan, who resigned as chairman in November after 15 years associated with the club.
“It’s obviously unbelievable and an absolute honour as such a big Doncaster fan like myself,” Tomlinson said.
“And to be involved with John who of course is very experienced and loved in Doncaster is great.”
Ryan refused to reveal specific figures regarding the takeover but insisted it had been a “multi-million-pound” deal.
Doncaster were relegated from the Championship on the final day of last season but when asked about the club’s Premier League prospects, Tomlinson was buoyant.
“I think anything is possible and there’s no point stumping your ambitions,” he said.
“We are very ambitious and we’re very enthusiastic - we’re going to do the best we can and see where that takes us.”
The duo have put a six-figure sum into The Tomlinson Ryan Trust for the benefit of the club and are aiming to raise a total of £2million with the help of donations.
Tomlinson joined Rovers as a player on a non-contract basis last year and nearly 10,000 fans turned out to watch the teenage heart-throb play for the team’s reserves against Rotherham in February.
The pop star, who once worked at the club as a waiter, hopes his fame can help make a difference.
“I don’t think there are many waiters who think they would be in this position,” he said.
“On our tour screens I’m wearing my Doncaster jersey which we’ve taken round the world so that’s pretty cool.
“And even in the most random places like Australia there will be people wearing the Doncaster Rovers shirt.
“I’m willing to put a lot of time in because it’s such a big passion for me and hopefully I can make a difference.”
Ryan first took over in 1998 when Rovers were languishing in the Conference. His tenure saw the team win four promotions, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and a return to the second tier for the first time in half a century.
“It feels like when I started in 1998 all over again,” the 64-year-old said.
“It’s like a new era in a lot of ways, it’s a new idea and we’re really going to have a go - this is going to give us the money we need to get back into the Premier League.”
Ryan continued: “We’re both passionate about the team but we also want to liven up the club in the town centre, make people positive and basically put Doncaster Rovers on the map.”
One Direction have more than 19-million followers on Twitter and their last album sold four million copies world-wide in the space of five weeks.
Ryan insists, however, Tomlinson is far from a stereotypical pop-star.
“He’s not what I would imagine a boy-band star like him to be - he’s very grounded, he knows what he wants, and he certainly wants this club to be a huge, huge success,” Ryan said.
“I always thought I was the most passionate person supporting Doncaster Rovers but he’s right up there with me - he’s definitely in this for the long haul.”
Ryan added: “I’m going to show Louis the ropes, he’s very attentive and he’s very keen to get heavily involved.
“Even though he’s on a world tour we’ll speak by phone, text, skype and he’ll be fully informed on everything.”
Like Tomlinson, Ryan has also pulled on the Rovers shirt.
The then-52-year-old brought himself on as a last-minute substitute in a 4-2 win over Hereford after the club had already sealed promotion from the Conference in 2003.
“We’re both passionate about the team and don’t forget Louis and I have got something in common - we’ve both played for Doncaster,” Ryan said.
“No chance of that happening again in my case - but you never know with Louis.”
Rovers were relegated from the Championship on a dramatic final day of last season after a 1-0 defeat to Leicester.
Tomlinson’s first league match as chairman of the club will be away to Yeovil on Saturday, August 9.