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SWINDON TOWN: Black reveals all on Twitter
1:46am Friday 22nd February 2013 in Sport
THE former majority shareholder of Swindon Town, Andrew Black, took to Twitter late on Thursday night to issue a lengthy statement detailing the twists and turns of his tenure at the County Ground.
The Betfair founder left no stone unturned as he put across his side of event s – from the removal of Jeremy Wray as chairman through the sale of Matt Ritchie to the resignation of Paolo Di Canio.
The entire statement can be read below. For the sake of fairness, it is reproduced as it appeared on the social networking site.
“OK - well thank you all for your kind words - well some of you anyway. When I decided to stand alone and support the club it was a disaster scenario - relegated to League 2, facing sure administration and with a heavy FL points deduction there would have been a major chance of falling out of the leagues at the end of the season.
“The club also had no manager. I was never there for the long term - I just wanted to restore some respectability. Today we sit at the top of league 1, again with no manager. As far as I'm concerned it's job done.
“I never signed up to the '3 year plan' - it was only presented to me once, and then only briefly. As it happens in 2011 I agreed to sell the club at the end of that season. Paolo knew about this. Unfortunately the deal fell through.
“The deal fell through because the FL concluded that they couldn't afford to run the club. One of their main backers died suddenly in the final weeks. It was all a bit tragic.
“I put Jeremy in as chairman at the start if the 2011 season - for various reasons I wasn't comfortable but I didn't have anyone else.
“Jeremy and Nick interviewed Paolo and thought he was the right guy - I stayed in the background as I prefer. We gave him a 2 year contract.
“I've known Jeremy for half my life - he was a huge West Ham fan, and in particular almost obsessive about Di Canio. This concerned me.
“There was a lot of debt in the holding company, much owed to Sir Martyn Arbib, but he was always happy to write it off, as I was with mine. The remainder was owed to Amdrew Fitton who was Jeremy's business partner. He wasn't prepared to write it off. It was very messy. Andrew and Jeremy did not want me to sell and we ended up falling out. I won't go into the detail here.
“I decided I 2011 that I would have to replace Jeremy, but it took a long time to find someone. Chairing a football club is not easy. Sir William did an amazing job for which he will never get full credit. I am hugely in his debt.
“I never got to know Paolo very well - I only met him a handful of times.
“Sitting in a board meeting with him is pretty surreal. I said many times to Nick that we should get the cameras in for a fly on the wall documentary.
“Anyway as the (first) sale of the club was going through FL approval Di Canio and Spencer presented us with a new contract with only a .few days to accept. I said it wasn't my concern as I thought I had sold the club. The contract went through and then I ended up owning .the club again. It seemed to be a very one sided contract. I had no choice but to accept it. A couple of months later I replaced Jeremy and relations started breaking down very quickly.
“I hadn't been happy with what had happened over Caddis and I had had a sense of humour failure when the club breached the wage cap and went into embargo. I had repeatedly asked at the board for all player transactions to be communicated and I had had virtual radio silence.
“Di Canio and Spencer were not happy with the chairman being changed and began issuing press releases criticising the board. I didn't like the way it was going. The budget plan changed with the forecasts for this year and next going a lot higher. At the start of the season I had decided to put in another year, but I changed my mind.
“I felt very confident that we could find a buyer in January. There was plenty of interest - the problem was that a lot of the interest was to buy the club out of administration. None of the board wanted that of course. To be honest I didn't really know much about the administration process at first.
“Anyway as it happened there was interest to buy the club without the need for admin. Given that I sold the club free of all callable debt.
“For £1 you'd hope that that would get some interest going.
“So I had told the club I would not put any more money in and they had to find new backers. As it happened when this was announced some of the clubs we owed money to (loan players etc) got nervy and demanded immediate payment, so I had to put more in to get to the end of Jan.
“There was a plan in place for the board to revert to if the sale fell apart - we were speaking with a firm of accountants. The only real option for raising cash quickly was to sell Matt Ritchie. Di Canio and Spencer knew this and there had, I'm told, been a lot of discussions.
“They didn't want to sell him of course - I don't think any of us did, but there were cash issues and I had decided for better or worse to hold firm and not put more money in. There were lots of frantic calls late into the evening and Ritchie ended up sold. Di Canio and Spencer had argued against it but AFAIK they had been consulted and had accepted that it might happen.
“I didn't have a lot to do with it - I had a few calls when I was at a restaurant that evening. I signed it off though.
“The deal got done subject to FL approval, which was great - Russell Backhouse put a lot of work in to make it happen. I met with the other side and got on well with them - a mixture of guys who hopefully have most bases covered. We still had to wait for FL approval and it was quite slow in coming, which displeased team Di Canio as we couldn't sign any loan players until the deal was approved.
“Paolo presented the incoming owners with a deal (that they accepted) on a very short time frame that was out of our control. When the FL approval did not come through in time Paolo resigned as he said he would and walked away. I was surprised.
“But if I'm honest I was pleased. Paolo is a highly intense individual and a fierce and demanding boss, but he is uncompromising and does not manage upwards. I haven't decided how good I think he is at his job - he'd be on your case the whole time but he had a very decent budget to work with.
“The worst thing from the perspective of new owners is that he isn't the type to be told - I think he saw himself as bigger than the club and I think it would have been an accident waiting to happen.
“At least this way the new owners get to pick a manager that they can work with. I know a lot of fans will be unhappy but the important thing from my perspective is that things are in good order.
"Anyway that's all from me. I hope it works out with the new team and I hope the club makes it to the Championship. Thanks all."
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