PAOLO Di Canio’s red and white army have spoken as one to tell the charismatic Italian to stay and continue the charge on the top levels of British football.
Despite Swindon Town being two points from the summit of League One, the manager is considering quitting the County Ground over his differences with the board.
Di Canio has said nothing on his position in recent days and is believed to be waiting for the sale of the club to be completed before making any major decisions. The takeover is likely to be sealed by the end of the week, with a five-strong consortium hoping to receive Football League approval.
Roger Bunce, chairman of Swindon Town Supporters’ Club, said: “I would like see Di Canio stay because he’s brought a lot of excitement and a lot of passion to the club, which the fans have reacted to on match days. To lose him at a time when we are two points off the top of the league and might even qualify for automatic promotion at the end of the season would be a great shame.
“Until we know who the new people are who are coming in to run the club and what money they are putting in it’s impossible to say what’s going to happen.”
Di Canio, who has been at Swindon for almost two years, has taken the club to the League Two title, a Johnstone’s Paint Wembley final and to within touching distance of the Championship.
His leadership has been viewed as an asset to the town which has attracted a new generation of supporters to the County Ground, as well giving a lift to longstanding fans.
Swindon Mayor Mick Bray said: “Di Canio has to stay because he’s given such inspiration to players and to a town full of youngsters, who have in turn given their support by attending matches along with adults. He has created a great team which is third in the League One table. “He’s had his ups and downs, even with the media, but with his own board he has not been getting enough support.
“Now there’s an outgoing board the problem is we don’t know when the incoming board is going to take control. You can’t hold a man on a lead like this. He demands a great salary and transfer funds but he has made many sacrifices for the club along the way and has justified what he is asking for.
“Some of the younger players found it hard to adjust at first but Di Canio has shown through his own leadership, his own fitness and his own personal life that he is prepared to put the club first. He lost his parents but still came through for Swindon, and it is time for the club to repay his loyalty.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson attended an event at Parliament yesterday organised to call for improved governance, transparency and involvement of supporters at sports clubs. He said: “Di Canio is absolutely integral to both our promotion chances and the unique ability to firmly put Swindon on the footballing map. As a character he is priceless.”
Di Canio has blamed the club for a string of broken promises and said that Matt Ritchie, one of his best players, was sold behind his back, leading him to consider his future.
Ron Smith, editor of the Washbag blog, pinpointed retaining the figurehead’s services until at least the end of the season as the most vital task in the in-tray of the new owners.
He wrote: “If they can do that and the three loanees – originally meant to join at the end of January – can be added to the squad, we can then quickly put the whole affair behind us and push on to be in the mix for promotion at the end of the season.”
Lee Bizley, a life-long fan who has relocated to Melbourne, Australia, said: “Di Canio is the best thing that has happened to Swindon since Glenn Hoddle. “If we get promoted this year I believe they should name a street after him in Swindon. I have seen some great times and bad times but quite honestly if Paolo leaves now I really will consider wiping my hands with Swindon. Come on everyone, pull together, give Paolo what he wants and let’s get promotion.”