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Calming the waters
SWINDON Town’s new board will be backed by funds similar in size to those of their predecessors, Jed McCrory has revealed, but the Robins’ new chairman has stressed that financial prudence will be one of the principal traits of his reign.
McCrory’s Seebeck 87 Limited finally completed their takeover of the club on Thursday, buying up a 99 per cent stake in Town from former majority shareholder Andrew Black, and the new board was formally unveiled to the media at a press conference at the County Ground yesterday.
Though it was McCrory’s cash which acquired the club initially, he told the Advertiser that two private investors would help to bankroll the continued development of the Wiltshire outfit and that they have a financial clout roughly equating to the budget under Black.
Swindon’s estimated monthly wage bill during the last 12 months of the Betfair co-founder’s tenure was £250,000, while almost £500,000 was spent on agents’ fees in 2011/12. Paolo Di Canio was understood to have been handed a £4.5million warchest this season.
“It’s significant funds to put it politely,” he said before, when asked if the kitty was of a similar size to recent years, adding: “Yes to be fair, yes it is but not to be spent naively or through false promises and it’s about managing it and one’s expectations, calming down the big drive of this ‘we’re going to get a new stadium’.
“You’ve just got to be realistic. You’ve got to calm everybody down a little bit and say ‘hang on a minute, let’s go one thing at a time’.
“The first thing is settling down the team, getting that commitment from the lads to take the club forward which is what I believe we’ve got. It’s also about making the balance right so it’s sustainable going forward in winning and aiming towards promotion.”
McCrory would not disclose the identity of the investors but described them as “football fans”.
The man whose cash injection helped revitalise Banbury United over the summer stressed how delighted he was to get the deal over the line after a whirlwind process came to a head last week.
It took McCrory & Co around five weeks to complete what would normally require several months of negotiation and due diligence – a pace necessary in order for the club to avoid the very real threat of insolvency.
“Having seen Luton go through a similar situation before I thought, from a football fan’s eyes, if I could help a member of the football family I would.
“I agreed to purchase the club with my personal money and also had fantastic discussions with private investors, football fans who had seen the model. They know the drive I have to take things forward and they supported me.
“I didn’t want to be the figurehead, I never want to be a figurehead, I didn’t want to be in the papers, I didn’t want to be in the pictures, I just wanted to help put a football club together.
“Then the news broke and the investors then said they would keep going if I would front it and everyone else had decided that I was fronting it before I decided I was fronting it. We felt that it was important from a football fan point of view to keep it that way.
“I know everyone is moaning about the time it was taking but for me I can tell you it felt like a week. The Football League were impeccable. The speed they moved this deal was incredible to make this happen.”
Having been constrained by the terms of a non-disclosure agreement during the weeks before the sale of the club was formally ratified by the Football League, McCrory is happy to be able to talk openly and honestly about the future.
“To be under an NDA and to be a human punchbag and not being able to talk was extremely frustrating but I think I’ve held my end of the bargain up,” he said. “I think I was one of the few people who didn’t talk.”