MOVES by Swindon Town supporters to buy the County Ground could take a significant step forward in the next month as they close in on a exclusivity arrangement with the borough council for the £2 million scheme.

Trust STFC’s initial £1.1 million bid for the stadium freehold was rejected by the local authority but despite the final valuation likely to come in at more than double that, the supporters’ group believe they have all-party support from councillors to proceed with their campaign as well as the potential to raise the amount required to complete the deal.

The Trust expect to confirm a £1 million match-funding arrangement to significantly boost their fundraising drive, while a ‘period of exclusivity’ with Swindon Borough Council could be in place before the end of the year, an arrangement which would lay out a timeframe for them to secure the necessary sum.

Community shares, priced at £500 each will also be at the forefront of the Trust’s drive, with the supporters’ group teaming up with fundraising partners to drive the scheme towards its target.

The Trust unveiled their plans for the County Ground purchase earlier this year, with supporters’ contributions to their Red Army Fund helping them fund a financial review of the stadium and club, as well as information provided by the council.

Despite their work remaining at a relatively low profile in the intervening months, chairman Steve Mytton insists that time has not been put to waste.

“People are probably wondering what we’re doing but it’s been busier than ever since March, when we started talking about this,’’ he said.

“We’ve been having meetings pretty much continually throughout that time. It’s been a hell of a lot of work.

“The proposals we put into the council were really detailed and really thorough and we did all the due diligence we needed to do.

“I’m really confident we know what we’re doing. It’s just a question of following that council process and getting the nod from our perspective.’’ Mytton now believes the plans have accelerated, with the starting gun on a concerted period of fundraising on the verge of being fired.

He added: “We made the first offer (to the council) and now, essentially, the council have done a valuation on it (the County Ground).

“We’ve matched their valuation and we’ve been keen to get going, but there is a due process that has to be followed.

“We’re hoping we can get the nod in December. We’re looking for a period of exclusivity from the council to do our fundraising.

“They will say, ‘go off and raise your money and if you hit your target, then it’s a deal.’ “We’ve had some really good chats with them and it’s just trying to get it over the line, really.’’

Town owner and chairman Lee Power himself made moves over the summer towards the possibility of developing the County Ground following the arrival of new non-executive vice-chairman Clem Morfuni, the founder of Axis group, who worked on Wembley Stadium and are currently involved in the construction of Tottenham Hotspur’s new state-of-the-art home.

But Mytton said: “It hasn’t impacted us at all. We haven’t had any contact with the club, we’ve just carried on about our business.

“We’ve got a commitment to our members to keep moving on, always with an angle of what’s best for the fans and what’s best for the club.

“Back in March we talked about the “Let’s Work Together” initiative and in our view, supporters owning the stadium would be a win-win for everyone.

“If the fans can own, look after and improve the stadium, that leaves the club to focus and invest in the thing that matters, getting us back up the leagues.

“We’ve already been involved in some very exciting conversations about realistic stadium development possibilities, things that would benefit everyone, football fan or not. Who knows what the knock-on effect might be if we achieve our goal, we want a catalyst for improvements to the whole Town.”

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “The County Ground is an important community asset and the council is keen to ensure it has a sustainable future.

“It has been widely reported that the council has been in discussions with TrustSTFC for some time regarding the future of the County Ground but, as these talks are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”