Doncaster Rovers fans last night expressed their shock over fears the club could go into administration, which they believe could condemn them to relegation.
The club has denied any such plans - but there are fears among supporters such a drastic step might be taken to avoid having to repay a £4 million loan to former Rovers owner John Ryan.
It is another twist in the long-running saga of a proposed takeover of the Keepmoat Stadium club by an Irish-based consortium known as Sequentia Capital.
If administration were to go ahead it would mean Rovers automatically being docked 10 points, which would plunge them to the bottom of the Championship, a position from which supporters fear they would be very unlikely to recover.
On hearing the latest revelation, Doncaster Rovers Supporters’ Club chairman Len South said: “The fans would be absolutely appalled. This takes my breath away. It would definitely mean relegation.
“It is going to be difficult enough avoiding relegation as it is and we feel Paul Dickov the manager has got his hands tied behind his back to some degree.
“I am flabbergasted and baffled as to what’s happening down there. But I don’t think John Ryan would want the club to be in administration because he’s been such a stalwart for the club.”
Earlier this week an email - seen by the The Star - was sent by Sequentia representative Kevin Phelan to Rovers director David Blunt, saying: “I have had contact with John Ryan who had a call from one of the club’s senior executives today, he said you intend putting Patienceform Limited - Doncaster Rovers Football Club - into administration.
“I would urge you to reconsider your position as I believe the appointment of an administrator at the club would be a disaster for the club.
“The Football League would impose a 10-point deduction on Doncaster Rovers and, with the club already in a very precarious position, this would certainly seal their relegation to League One.
“As you also know from previous discussions Sequentia Capital SA are still willing to complete a deal which would ensure the club’s future and invest funds in the immediate term to stave off relegation.”
In a day of mixed messages, Rovers yesterday broke their wage ceiling to sign team captain Richie Wellens on an 18-month contract.
Shortly afterwards chief executive Gavin Baldwin said in a statement: “The club’s top priority is to support the manager in every way possible to ensure we maintain our Championship status.
“The owners have shown a clear intent for the future by making funds available for new signings during the transfer window.
“In addition to this we have also gone above and beyond our normal parameters to ensure Richie Wellens remains at the club long term. These are not the actions of a club who are considering administration as an option.”
Mr Ryan revealed he is owed £4 million by the club when he announced his resignation as chairman and a director just before the 0-0 draw at Barnsley in November.
Sequentia Capital are since understood to have agreed to buy that loan from Ryan as part of their strategy to take over the club. Sequentia have also written to Rovers’ majority shareholders attempting to dissuade them from entering administration.
In light of the loan, the Football League are seeking assurances from Rovers that they are a viable business and will see out the season.
A top Football League official is understood to have met with Rovers chiefs to discuss the matter at Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Stevenage.