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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Buyers must be right for Town
6:00am Saturday 19th January 2013 in Sport
SO WHERE do we go from here? What do we conclude at the end of a week which began with a broken dugout and ended with a for sale sign being slapped on Swindon Town.
It’s been another crazy week in the world of the Robins, but perhaps the time for reflection is gone and we should look towards the future and what could be to come.
We know that there are several, perhaps as many as seven, interested parties as discussions continue to find a new owner after it emerged that Andrew Black was looking to offload a large chunk of his 98 per cent shareholding in the club.
So what happens next? What kind of person, what kind of consortium would you want in charge of your football club? For me there are five criteria that have to be met by any potential new owner.
Ambition – The investor or consortium of investors must have the drive to push the club forward.
Football is a strange business, where profits are minimal and expenditure excessive.
Anyone interested in buying into Swindon Town must have a degree of optimism about their goals, there’s little point purchasing a football club and pumping in countless millions only to watch it drift along rudderless.
Passion – The human quality perhaps most abundant in sport is an essential commodity for anyone who’s looking to run the Robins. We all know how intense the fanbase is at the County Ground, and the manager’s passion could barely be better documented.
Of course this fire will need to be tempered with common sense, a level head and an iron fist when it comes to spending but the love of football, an understanding of the game and an appreciation of just what it has meant to be associated with Swindon Town is crucial.
Responsibility – The response on Thursday to the mention of the A-word sent many into meltdown, and understandably.
Swindon has come so close to losing its club in the past that any intimation of administration brings all those ugly memories back to the surface.
Whoever takes charge at SN1 needs to have drive and passion, but he, she or they must also recognise that they are not only investing in a business venture, they are investing in an institution, in other people’s lives, in the core of a local footballing community. And they must respect that.
Transparency – There are elements of business that, of course, must be kept behind closed doors. In order for ambitions to be realised, confidentiality is key. However, any new owner should be keen to talk to the fans and explain their decisions and actions.
An accessible hierarchy allows supporters who care so deeply about the state of their club to rest easy in the knowledge that they are being kept in the loop.
When there is no one to speak to, when there is no one to hear from, fans worry.
Property expertise – Though not necessarily important in any takeover in English football, a background in property development and an eye to Swindon’s future in that respect is absolutely critical.
For the club to expand, in time and when attendances facilitate it, the redevelopment of the County Ground is perhaps the most pressing of all internal matters at the club.
With the council becoming ever more open to the idea, a new owner should have the relevant skills to take the process which has staggered along for too long to the next stage.