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Power outlines Town vision
LEE Power plans to take the neanderthal approach to the chairman’s role at Swindon Town, as he aims to guide the club towards the Championship and self-sustainability.
Power held his first press conference as Town’s new owner at the County Ground yesterday morning, during which he admitted to being “a bit of a caveman” when it came to social media, stressed that he was much more comfortable out of the limelight and emphasised his commitment to cutting expenses while maintaining a successful team.
It was a calculated and assured display in front of the regional media.
The former Norwich City striker broached topics such as his Swiss residency, ground redevelopment or lack thereof, his intentions for the Robins under his stewardship, Twitter, the structure of the club’s boardroom and the January transfer window - with many of his answers echoing the sentiments he expressed in a statement on Tuesday.
Much of what Power had to say was steeped in optimism and designed to reassure fans that stability is one of his primary objectives in the early weeks of his tenure.
“Football has been in my blood ever since I was a kid, I’ve known nothing else but football,” he said. “When you finish football you have to make a living so I went into business, learnt the hard way on a few things, got an education there.
“Football’s a jungle but I know how to navigate my way around it. I think I’ve got a blueprint here and a philosophy on the football side which I think in the medium term means we need to be challenging for the Championship.
“Once we achieve that goal, I think with the contacts and the knowledge I have I see no reason why we can’t push on and try to have a crack at the Premier League.
“There needs to be a bit of unity. There’s been a lot of uncertainty.
“First and foremost there needs to be a bit of stability. I’m not going anywhere. I’m coming in to the football club to try to do what other people have done and flip it and move it on and sell it. I’m not doing that.”
Unity and stability are buzzwords so often floated by new owners of Swindon Town but rarely delivered. The Robins have been through five managers, four chairman and three owners in the past 14 months alone and it is perhaps unsurprising that the community has become increasingly sceptical of the men who control the largest sports club in the town.
Power, however, for all the rumour and hearsay that has drifted through cyberspace in recent weeks, is presenting himself as a credible next step. To do so, he turned to honesty.
Redevelopment of the County Ground, he said, did not interest him - a far cry from the long-term goals of his predecessor Jed McCrory, who had grand designs for a leisure complex in SN1. Relocation is not on the agenda either, for that matter. Power, instead, wants to build a successful squad from a sustainable blueprint.
Since arriving in Wiltshire in March, Power has assisted in chopping Town’s footballing budget in half - and further reductions are expected this summer, with next season’s kitty expected to weigh in at around the £1.5million. Still, the 41-year-old feels promotion does not have to be bought.
“I haven’t got the wealth of certain other individuals that have owned it and I’ve got no interest in the ground redevelopments or relocations or whatever you call it,” he said.
“It’s purely based on the football side and the football club as a business, and I believe that given time I can get it from losing money to making money - it’s as simple as that.
“I’ve got a long-term goal that, once this football club is in the Championship, it will be making a profit. That’s why I’m here. I’m a businessman and I’m sure the fans would be okay with that.
“If it gets into the Premier League it will be making a lot of money. If it did I’d be very pleased and I’m sure the fans will be.
“When the summer comes there are still people who are on contracts from previous regimes which, at the current level, the club can’t afford.
“They will come to an end in the summer and that’s when the football club can become self-sufficient. There are ways and means of doing things, some people’s ways are throwing money at it and having a crack at it.”
In comparison to his predecessor - the outspoken and enigmatic McCrory - Power presents himself as a much more introverted character.
He readily admits to not understanding Twitter and, having seen the chairman-player relationship from the other side of the fence, feels that an owner is best served biding his time in the background.
“It’s difficult because I’m following Jed who is a different animal to me - not in a disrespectful way,” he said.
“I’m a bit of a caveman, a bit of a traditionalist. I won’t be going on Twitter, I won’t be going on forums and things like that. I don’t understand them to be honest and I don’t think it’s the place for a chairman.
“I’d rather be more unassuming. Where I’ve played the game I’m used to the press, I’m used to the media and I don’t have a problem with them. I’ve got a lot of friends in the press and media.
“At a football club I think the most important people should be the players and the manager and that’s what I think people should read about.
“I’m there if anyone wants to ask me anything, if anyone has doubts or concerns I’m happy to answer the questions but on a day-to-day basis I do think the focus should be on the players or the management.”
Power will retain Sangita Shah on his two-person board, with accountant Steve Crouch expected to be added in due course.
Despite only being allowed in the country for 90 days a year under the terms of his Swiss residency, Town’s new top dog does not feel he needs to draft in a raft of faces to help him run the club.
“In today’s climate and with the technology of today it’s a little different to 10 years ago. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can keep your finger on the pulse,” he said.
“I think we’ll probably make one more addition but that will come later. It won’t be for investment purposes, it will just be someone who can help with overall structure and the day to day runnings of the football club.
“We don’t need any more investment.
“Don’t get me wrong it would be nice, but we’ve demonstrated to the Football League that there’s enough money in the football club to see us through until the end of the season.
“At the end of the season the football club will be self-sufficient and sustainable.”
Power sat down with previous owner Andrew Black before assuming control at the County Ground to come to an arrangement whereby an outstanding liability of £3million, owed to the Betfair founder upon any further sale of the club, was not activated.
In conversation, you get the impression Power really does intend to be with Swindon for the long haul, and he’s laying down the groundwork to achieve just that.
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