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SWINDON TOWN: Black opens up after sale of Town
6:00am Friday 22nd February 2013 in Sport
ANDREW Black, the former majority shareholder of the club, took to Twitter last night after the sale of the club had been completed.
Black, whose millions have bankrolled Town for five years and who dug into his own personal reserves to fund the Paolo Di Canio era, has been the subject of criticism from some circles following his decision to withdraw his funding.
He responded on the social networking site yesterday by writing: “OK - well thank you all for your kind words - well some of you anyway.
“When I decided to stand alone and support the club it was a disaster scenario - relegated to League 2, facing sure administration and with a heavy FL points deduction there would have been a major chance of falling out of the leagues at the end of the season.
“The club also had no manager. I was never there for the long term - I just wanted to restore some respectability.
“I never signed up to the '3 year plan' - it was only presented to me once, and then only briefly.
“As it happens in 2011 I agreed to sell the club at the end of that season. Paolo knew about this. Unfortunately the deal fell through.
“The deal fell through because the FL concluded that they couldn't afford to run the club. One of their main backers died suddenly in the final weeks. It was all a bit tragic.
“I put Jeremy in as chairman at the start of the 2011 season - for various reasons I wasn't comfortable but I didn't have anyone else.
“I've known Jeremy for half my life - he was a huge West Ham fan, and in particular almost obsessive about Di Canio. This concerned me.
“There was a lot of debt in the holding company, much owed to Sir Martyn Arbib, but he was always happy to write it off, as I was with mine. The remainder was owed to Andrew Fitton who was Jeremy's business partner. He wasn't prepared to write it off. It was very messy. Andrew and Jeremy did not want me to sell and we ended up falling out. I won't go into the detail here.
“I decided in 2011 that I would have to replace Jeremy, but it took a long time to find someone. Chairing a football club is not easy.
“Sir William did an amazing job for which he will never get full credit. I am hugely in his debt. I never got to know Paolo very well - I only met him a handful of times.”
Meanwhile, Nick Watkins says Swindon Town are getting “grass roots football people” in Jed McCrory and the rest of the new board at the club.
McCrory’s Seebeck 87 Limited finally received the official go-ahead to take over at the County Ground yesterday, and the Banbury United owner has brought in Gary Hooper, Steve Murrall and Callum Rice as directors.
Watkins, who for now will be retained by the incoming owners, believes the group will exhibit genuine passion for the game which can only help the club.
He said: “What you’ve got under this new regime is a collection of people clearly all galvanised around Jed, who are genuine football people. They are grass roots football people, they like the sport, they understand the sport, they’re passionate about the sport and I think as a consequence they are going to be passionate about Swindon Town Football Club.
“They will be involved and I think there will be a complete antithesis to what we had previously where, with the exception of Jeremy Wray, we didn’t often see any of the other main board of directors present at the County Ground and I don’t think they were terribly interested.
“Certainly Andrew Black said he was never really interested in the club, nor indeed was he interested in football. He was more of a horse racing man.
“They’re very different individuals to the outgoing board but they come with a passion and they come with a desire to see the club be successful both on the field and commercially off the field with the opportunities of redevelopment and all that it brings.
“I think there’s going to be an injection of renewed energy in that regard. They already have brought in members of the team into executive positions to impose their style on the club.”