TRUST STFC chairman John Ward has called on any potential new owner to keep chief executive Nick Watkins at the County Ground as and when they take control of the club.

The Advertiser understands a deal is close to being agreed which could see a British-based consortium buy up a large chunk of Andrew Black’s 98 per cent shareholding in Swindon Town, with an initial agreement potentially being reached before the end of the month.

The identities of the parties interested in taking control of the club remain a mystery at present but, whoever assumes the responsibility of running the Robins, Ward would like to see Watkins kept on.

He said: “I would hope that, whatever else happens and whoever takes over as owners, they very much leave Nick Watkins in place if he’s willing to stay. I think he is one of the reasons why the club has been getting it together behind the scenes in many ways.

“I would hope that he stays and one would hope that they realise you don’t make a fast buck taking over a League One football club. They need to be in it for the long haul.

“I don’t think we would have any prejudice against foreign owners. They would need to be hands-on enough to care about what was happening. Like any owner or board they would need to leave the day to day running of the board to the chief executive.”

Meanwhile, Ward made a plea for transparency to those considering the purchase of the club.

“(They need) a realisation that a good relationship with supporters will help with continuity and stability and openness,” he said. “A willingness to have a dialogue, possibly in a formal way, with representatives of supporters can only make the understanding of what is going on be better.

“This sort of channel must be better for the supporters and management and the people who turn up every week and help in various other ways, whether it’s additional finance or clearing the pitch.”