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SWINDON TOWN: Patey the debt-buster
SIR William Patey has revealed that Sir Martyn Arbib is willing to write off the debt owed to him by Swindon Town, and the new Robins chairman has encouraged Andrew Fitton to follow suit and help the club emerge from their transfer embargo.
Patey, who replaced Jeremy Wray in the County Ground boardroom seven days ago, told the local media that only after the debt overhang in the club’s holding company has been cleared will potential new investors see Town as a viable option.
He would not go into specifics in terms of the size or nature of the debt, although he stressed that it is not dangerous to Swindon’s future, and he urged former chairman Fitton to consider following Arbib’s lead in foregoing what he is owed or converting it into shareholding.
Arbib is currently one of three major shareholders in Swindon Football Holdings Limited.
“Part of the problem is, to get more investment in the club we need to deal with the overhang of debt that the club has,” he said.
“Without writing off the debt issue the next stage is going to be more difficult.
“We’ve got an owner in Sir Martyn Arbib who is ready to do it and if we can get the other debtors of the holding company to write off the debt – I know Andrew Fitton and Jeremy own some of that debt as well - and frankly it has no real value, then we would be in a position to get more investment in the club.
“They’re not going to want to come in to provide that investment with the debt overhang.
“The debt is significant but does not affect the day to day running of the club because it is in a holding company.
“We’re not furnishing that debt but it does affect future investment. If you’re going to get someone to invest in the club they need to know that that investment, their equity in the club will have first call if the club – as we hope – is successful.
“The debt in a sense is a constraint on getting more investment. It doesn’t affect the day to day running of the club and the club’s not in danger of going into administration or anything like that, but it does affect the future.
“If the others – principally Andrew Fitton and the other owners – are ready to write off that debt that would almost immediately give us the opportunity to get out of embargo because then it would be possible to go back to the owners and say we need some more equity.
“Under those circumstances I think I could persuade them to do that.
“It’s unreasonable to expect the owners to put more money into the club without the issue of the debt being addressed. The onus is really on Andrew Fitton and the other owners; I think Jeremy Wray has a small stake in that as well.
“If they, as they believe they do, have Swindon’s interests at heart then that would be the way forward.”