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TOWN TAKEOVER: Black is out and McCrory is in as contracts exchanged
THE takeover of Swindon Town is almost complete, after a consortium led by Banbury United owner Jed McCrory struck a deal to assume control at the County Ground.
Swindon’s majority shareholder, Andrew Black, has been keen to part with a large chunk of his 98 per cent stake in the club for several months and the Betfair founder confirmed a fortnight ago that he was looking to sell up.
After rapid negotiations, which began with seven interested parties of which two were believed to be foreign investors, an initial agreement was reached with McCrory’s group yesterday - securing the club’s stability and avoiding the prospect of administration.
The takeover came in the nick of time for the Robins, who had already contracted experts to assist in the financial restructuring of the club should negotiations break down. In their preparations for the worst-case scenario, the Adver understands a letter had been sent out to members of the Football League stating that the entire Swindon squad was available for transfer.
Thankfully for everyone involved with the club that eventuality never came to pass, as the relevant paperwork was signed on Wednesday morning meaning the sale of players was no longer essential.
In order to facilitate the successful handover of power at the County Ground, the Advertiser understands the debts in the club’s holding company, Swindon Football Holdings Limited, will be written off.
That money, believed to total between £9.5million and £10million, is owed to Black, Fitton, Sir Martyn Arbib and Jeremy Wray.
An outstanding amount remains in secured debts.
A statement issued by the club last night read: “The board of Swindon Town FC are pleased to announce its majority shareholder, Andrew Black, has today exchanged contracts with a consortium to acquire the club. Completion of the sale is dependent upon approval from the Football League, which we hope to obtain in the next few days.
“Upon completion, most of the club’s existing debt will be written off, the threat of administration will be avoided and Paolo Di Canio and the squad will be able to concentrate on football and the challenge of making Swindon a Championship club next season.”
McCrory’s intervention could have prevented severe repercussions at the County Ground. Had Town slipped into administration it would be their third “offence” this century and could have incurred a significant points penalty, or worse, from the Football League.
McCrory, only took over at Banbury in the summer of last year but it is understood that he may have to relinquish his position at the Oxfordshire club to satisfy FA regulations regarding dual ownership.
McCrory could receive special dispensation to hold roles at both Town and Banbury until the end of the season.