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SWINDON TOWN: Why Ward chose a pay cut to stay at Town
IN TAKING a pay cut to extend his contract at Swindon Town, Darren Ward has shown a rare quality in modern football.
Explaining his decision to reduce his wages in order to prolong his stay with the Robins, after finally putting pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him in the red of Swindon through to the summer of 2015, Ward told the Advertiser that the project being planned at the County Ground is one he truly believes in.
It must be. The 34-year-old was courted by Brentford over the off-season but instead chose to remain with Town despite many pundits and some sections of the club’s fanbase predicting a difficult campaign on and off the pitch.
Ward, at the epicentre of it all, accepts that it may well be hard work. But at the end of it he sees a reward that is worth the early aggravation.
“It’s one of those where I have to decide to look at it short term or long term. The club need to trim down the wage bill and I really enjoy it, I love it here,” he said. “I’m settled, I’m enjoying my football, I’ve not enjoyed my football as much as this for many years.
“I want more of it and do to that sometimes you have to make some sacrifices. The club have been very good to me the whole way through and probably because of that as well I’m more than happy to take a pay cut.”
Ward’s relationships with chairman Jed McCrory and Lee Power appear to be strong. He raves about their “relaxed” style and the sustainable model – with a strong focus on youth – proposed by the current Town board.
“There’s a good understanding. We’ve sat down many times. We’re very open and honest and very relaxed about it all – probably more so than you’d get at any other club and certainly than I’ve had at any other club,” he said.
“Here you tend to see them more, tend to speak to them more, you have their respect and you give them that.”
Some supporters remain concerned about the direction in which the club is headed. Ward has again asked for patience as he and everyone involved in the forefront and background in SN1 look to prove that what they are putting together will be worth the wait.
“There’s an incredible amount of work being done behind the scenes but, like anything, with these changes being made it does take time. You can’t expect things to be there and be rosy straight away,” he said.
“We’ve got a new training ground, a new board, a new chairman, a new manager, a new outlook on how to play – there’s so much you need to consider – new players, new contracts getting signed, players being happy, injuries. There’s such a lot of work that’s gone on over the last six months.
“We’re all trying to pull together with the best intentions to make sure that this club is sustainable and it can move on to the future and be successful.”
Part of Ward’s new contract with incorporate Swindon helping him through his UEFA badges as he plans for a potential career in coaching. And he’s said he’d be more than happy to assist new manager Mark Cooper at Liddington if required.
“There’s something we’ve written into the contract about my badges and I’ll be looking to get them done in the next season or so and then we’ll see,” he said. “You can never look too far ahead in football but intentions are there to get the badges done and after that we’ll see what happens.
“I’m not too sure. Mark Cooper has got the job and I can call him the gaffer now and it depends what he wants to do. Before he got the job he asked me if ever he needed me to would I do some coaching and I am more than happy to.
“I’ve done it out in Portugal and I’m more than comfortable doing it. We’ll have to see what his views are and whatever they are I’ll be more than happy to stick by him.”
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