Tomlinson in club fundraising move

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Celebrity Sightings At Niall Horan's Charity Football Challenge May 26, 2014

One Direction star is launching a "crowdfunding" campaign to raise money for his new football club.

The singer's deal to take over Doncaster Rovers alongside former chairman John Ryan was completed today.

Now they are hoping to attract up to £2 million from One Direction fans and football supporters to help bring success to the League One club.

It is thought to be one of the biggest crowdfunding initiatives launched in the UK.

The Tomlinson Ryan Trust are putting in a six-figure sum as part of the campaign to show the pair's commitment.

Tomlinson, who was at the centre of controversy last month after footage emerged seeming to show him and bandmate Zayn Malik smoking cannabis, is a lifelong Doncaster fan and played for their reserve team earlier this year.

The star said: "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.

"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.

"This is a big step which I believe will open up opportunities to provide a very, very exciting future for the club and its supporters."

The Tomlinson Ryan Trust's objectives for the club include:

:: Achieving Premier League status "by careful promotion, support, finance, and investment via its holding company"

:: Building a "high quality" playing squad

:: Expanding the club's supporter base in the UK and internationally

:: Growing the Doncaster Rovers brand

:: Embracing and supporting youth development and sports activities generally.

In return for pledges of cash, those who give to the crowdfunding campaign will be offered rewards including a place on a new "Club 28" which gives them the chance to have a say in the future of the club.

Other incentives include a range of Club 28 merchandise.

Crowdfunding rules mean money will be returned to donors if the £2 million target is not reached, while rewards are only released if the goal is achieved.

Many of One Direction's army of teenage fans will not be able to offer their support - 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 £14 million each and a combined wealth of £70 million.

Cosmetic surgery magnate Mr Ryan, 64, has also played for Doncaster, bringing himself on as a substitute during a match against Hereford after the club sealed promotion from the Conference in 2003.

He oversaw Doncaster's rise from non-league to the Championship as well as their move from Belle Vue to the Keepmoat Stadium before stepping aside in November to allow Terry Bramall and Dick Watson to take over.

Mr Ryan said: "By setting up the Trust, launching the crowdfunding campaign with crowdfunder.co.uk, and putting our own money in, 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.

"As its previous chairman, I am still totally committed to developing an exciting future for the club. The objectives of the trust provide a roadmap to make the club an even greater success. I am very pleased to join forces with Louis to make this happen. It's an exciting moment for Doncaster Rovers."

Tomlinson's bid to take over the club was delayed previously because of negotiations over his image rights. They are owned by his management team and would entitle them to a share of any money
generated from his image or name.

The developments drew a sceptical reaction from Doncaster fans.

Writing on a supporters' forum, one wrote: "I'm horrified if this is the future of the club, if they don't have the funds to support the club independently then why buy it."

Another comment said: "I'm horrified at the concept of this. We have been sold down the river."
One added: "There is no way we will raise 2m!"

Some were more willing to give the project time. "Lets not jump to conclusions just yet," wrote one follower. "But questions need to be answered, I feel."

Another said: "I personally think it's a good idea. The crowd funding gifts seem to be solely aimed at 1D fans. It's a good way of the club getting money from 1D fans around the world."

Crowdfunder.co.uk says it has launched more than 4,000 projects and raised £2 million for communities, businesses, charities and social enterprises.

The firm's managing director hailed the Doncaster campaign as "really exciting".

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