FOR the sake of its fans, Swindon Town deserves to be treated with some long-awaited care and consideration, now the shenanigans of the summer are resolved.
Too often this club has been thrown around like a rag doll, the single child in a battle of warring divorcees. No longer. It must stop. With the High Court ruling in his favour, Lee Power now has the chance to establish the sustainability and calm at the County Ground that he’s promised to deliver over time. As he begins his reign again, no longer hindered by politics and legalities, we - the local community - can offer him a clean slate to start from.
We can do our bit by casting doubts and feuds aside and, at long last, turning our minds to football. We can do our bit by opening ourselves up to be entertained.
But those in charge at Swindon Town must know that simply stating an aim is no longer enough. Swindon supporters have listened to regurgitated PR jargon too often down the years to be turned by words alone. We’re a cynical lot now, bound by a shared history of mistreatment and neglect, cowering in the corner as we anticipate the latest blow. We are still scarred by the actions of Brian Hillier and BEST Holdings, the confusion of the past 18 months, the many broken promises and false dawns.
So, when an owner says he’s aiming for self-sustainability, surely it is understandable to ask him to prove it? Words are cheap in the world of sport, nothing much else is. We’ve been lied to far too often. Swindon Town doesn’t deserve the cheap option any more.
That’s not to say a sensible strategy with a streamlined budget won’t work and it’s not to say the club’s owner has not inserted funds over the past year.
The playing model conceived by Power and Mark Cooper is admirable and ambitious in an unconventional way, and in 2013/14 it surpassed most expectations as the Robins finished eighth in League One.
But it’s going to be cut again this summer and a wage kitty of £1.2million requires a savvy football brain, something Power has, and patience, something the fans will need to develop.
In 2014/15, Swindon and its supporters need each other more than ever. There is an opportunity for Power to restore a town’s pride in their football club, a feeling that has been overtaken by disillusionment and concern in recent weeks. He has a weight of responsibility to shoulder, a brand to promote and he has to make money - else why would anyone involve themselves in football?
It’s a delicate balance to be struck and if he manages it there’s little doubt he will be a success in our small Wiltshire outpost.
That the club, its many fans and wonderful staff have been dragged through the dirt like Hector from Achilles’ chariot this summer is shameful. It must not happen again.