EXCLUSIVE: The first interview with new Town chairman Sir William Patey (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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EXCLUSIVE: The first interview with new Town chairman Sir William Patey
HAVING dealt with the war-torn nations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the political landscape at Swindon Town is hardly hazardous territory for new Robins chairman Sir Williams Patey.
Patey, the former British ambassador in Kabul and Baghdad, was officially appointed to the County Ground role yesterday after the decision was made by majority shareholder Andrew Black to replace former chief Jeremy Wray.
The 59-year-old may soon be having to diffuse Paolo Di Canio post-match bombshells on a regular basis, but, after becoming accustomed to the shell-shocked cities of the Middle East as his everyday working environment, Patey is convinced he will be able to settle quickly and comfortably into his role.
He told the Advertiser: “It’s a great challenge but it’s no greater than the challenge of landing in Kabul and taking control of the biggest embassy in the world in the middle of a war zone, or being sent into Iraq in 2005 with the words from Tony Blair ringing in my ears to form a constitution and establish a free election and democracy.
“A football club is an organisation just like any other organisation. It is an organism, with people working together. “Relationships are important.”
Patey may be used to dealing with the Taliban but he’ll be confronted with a whole new set of negotiations when Di Canio comes knocking on his door asking for funds to continue Swindon’s pursuit of a Championship place.
The man from Dundee, knighted in 2009, met the Robins’ enigmatic and brilliantly controversial manager for the first time last Friday and he was immediately struck by the qualities those in Wiltshire who have come to know Di Canio are well used to.
“Since I took on this role a number of friends have been sending me YouTube videos of Paolo and how he is,” he said.
“I met him on Friday and it was clear that he is a man full of passion and commitment. He wants the club to have success.
“I’m looking forward to working with him.
“There is a three-year plan at this football club. Of course if it is achievable in two years then that is fantastic but the plan is there for three years.”
And what of Sir William the individual? We all recognise the gravitas is draped all over his CV, but what is his relationship with football?
The chairmanship of Swindon will be his first role within sport, but that does not mean he is a stranger to the game.
“I’m a lifelong football fan, although not Swindon,” he said. “I was brought up in Edinburgh and so I’m a Hibernian fan. I’m well aware of the ups and downs and so I know what Swindon fans go through.
“I know all about the emotion of football and the passion of the game.
“I used to play football, though not to any professional standard, and I played right the way through until I was 40 with a team called Old Richmond Lock.
“I’ve just come out of a long diplomatic career and what I bring to the club is a focus on leadership, I like to think I bring good management ability."
The outgoing Wray was quick to praise the character and ability of his successor yesterday and Patey was equally as glowing in his assessment of his predecessor. “Jeremy has been a tremendous servant to the club and I wish him well,” he said.
“It was originally discussed that he might have stayed on the board in another role and I would have enjoyed working with him but he has chosen not to do that.
“Jeremy focused 100 per cent on the football aspects of the club. The owners feel that the commercial side of the club needs to be given the right attention and that the football side of the club is aware of the commercial side.”