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'Let's spend a lifetime building up a shareholding'
TRUST STFC chairman John Ward hopes the news that Swindon Town is officially for sale will encourage fans to commit to buying a part of the club for themselves.
The Trust currently owns around £11,000 worth of shares in the Robins, a figure which pales into insignificance when majority investor Andrew Black’s £10million-plus contribution to the cause is taken into account.
However, with the Betfair co-founder now looking to get out of Town, the time is ripe for new shareholders to come to the fore - and Ward is keen to establish a legacy of Swindon supporters buying into their own club, asking fans to “spend a lifetime building a shareholding”.
“If it ends the way we all want it to end, with new investors taking over, we don’t want everyone to sit back and say ‘fantastic, hooray, that’s all sorted then’ and five years later the same thing happens again,” he said.
“We have got to begin to try to change the situation with the position on ownership, even if of course it’s going to be a long haul. Supporters are in for the long haul, it’s only rich people who have got the money to put into football clubs in large quantities who are maybe here today and gone tomorrow.
“As supporters we are here a lifetime, therefore let’s spend a lifetime building up a shareholding in the club and start now instead of blaming somebody else, sitting back and saying it’s all too difficult. Let’s get stuck in.
“The danger is that people will think it’s been sorted; ‘it’s not Andrew Black - it’s Mr X and Mrs Y - and we can forget about it now’. No we can’t forget about it, we’ve got to start working now.
“What I hope may happen is people at the club like Nick Watkins will not want to keep going through this again and again, so maybe we can talk to them if there are new investors about how we can help them and they can help us inject a bit of stability into it.”
When asked what the Trust would say to the next owners of Swindon Town, Ward said: “I would say first of all thank you, secondly we would like to help inject stability and sustainability into the club. Potentially there are a large number of small investors, you don’t want to bother with each of them having one pound’s worth of shares but collectively we could arrange some sort of long-term share purchase deal with the Trust.
“That way we can hold shares collectively and supporters can express their voices in a democratic way through the structure of the club. Surely that’s of interest to individuals who are investing a serious amount of money in this football club.”