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1D star in club crowdfunding appeal
4:16pm Thursday 19th June 2014 in © Press Association 2014
One Direction star Louis Tomlinson has launched a "crowdfunding" campaign to help bankroll his aim to take his new football club to the top.
The singer's deal to take over Doncaster Rovers alongside former chairman John Ryan was completed today.
Now they are hoping to attract £2 million from supporters to help bring success to the League One club in what is thought to be one of the biggest crowdfunding projects started in the UK.
Tomlinson, 22, 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.
After the joint takeover was confirmed today, he set out his goals for the club - which include lifting them into the lucrative Premier League.
"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.
"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."
The pair have set up the Tomlinson Ryan Trust, which is putting in a six-figure sum as part of the crowdfunding campaign.
The 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
:: Helping supporters obtain direct ownership of up to 5% of the club
:: 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 newly formed "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.
"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 snags related to his image rights, which are owned by his management team and would entitle them to a share of any money generated from the use of his image or name.
They believe that interest in the club will increase as a result of Tomlinson's ownership and it is understood they battled for a share of any extra revenue made through merchandise and extra ticket sales.
Today's 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 managin g director Phil Geraghty hailed campaign as "really exciting".