Willie opens new chapter in football finance story

Football entrepreneur: Willie McKay will take care of Rovers' transfers for the next two years
Football entrepreneur: Willie McKay will take care of Rovers' transfers for the next two years
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WILLIE McKay.

A sound, stout Scottish name, with a hint of the Highlands and a whiff of porridge oats.

If Willie McKay were a Dickens character he might have a ‘raw-meat complexion and wear a suit of dark, modest cloth’.

He would be ‘clean in his habits, frugal and reliable’. In short, a man you could trust with your daughter’s dowry.

But that’s another story of another time. The Willie McKay at Doncaster is all you would expect from a modern-day entrepreneur - sharp-suited, quick witted and about to change football finances for ever.

Whether Dickensian London or Donny today people have always come up with new and inventive ways to make money in tough times.

So it is with Willie McKay whose plans sum up, depending on your viewpoint, the current madness of football’s finances or the best of human ingenuity.

Willie has been employed by Rovers to take care of transfers for the next two years and will make his money by bringing in out-of-favour stars from overseas and giving them a platform to play and get noticed.

Rovers will pay a maximum of £2,000 towards the players’ salary with the parent club paying the rest. If the player plays well and gets a transfer, Rovers get the benefit on the pitch and make a few quid from the transfer, the player moves on, his parent club cashes in and McKay gets a cut of the fee.

Everybody’s happy? Far from it.

That such a position can exist in football is mind-boggling to those of us who remember when £100,000 was a world record transfer fee rather than a week’s wages.

But that’s where the game is now. Right at the forefront of enterprise with openings only for the sharpest minds and busiest bodies.

It can be no other way. The world’s insatiable appetite for Premier League football does not easily stretch to the Championship. Clubs like Doncaster need players, money and exposure.

Willie McKay promises all three from a Football-League-approved system that for Rovers is a chance to recruit talent from all over the world.

It’s a sort of X-Factor judges’ houses stage for fallen foreign footballers who, at least in theory, want to impress the scouts in the stands.

Rovers fans forums - particularly the articulate and sensible ‘Viva Rovers’ by Glen Wilson - are appalled.

In interviews McKay has described Rovers as ‘no threat to West Ham’ if they were to loan, for example, defender Herita Ilunga from the Upton Park club.

No threat?

How can they be sold a proposition whose premise is that Rovers are ‘no threat’ to a team in the same division?

Rovers’ Chairman John Ryan is an intelligent, progressive man who took them from non-league football back to the Championship.

He will have thought long and hard and must be convinced it can work for his club. Not everyone is so sure.

Willie McKay shares initials with one of Dickens most famous loveable rogues Wilkins Micawber. The first letters of their names may be the only connection and it’s far too late for the game to adhere to Micawber’s most famous aphorism: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Still, something’s bound to turn up. Isn’t it?