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Monday, September 25, 2006

Meanwhile at Swindon: Official Statement re Bill Power & Boardoom Issues

Meanwhile at Swindon

Swindon Town Official Statement - September 25, 2006

Swindon Town Football Club have made a fantastic start to the season. Under the leadership of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet the squad that has been assembled have performed well, gates are up and the board are confident that the objective for this season, namely a return to League One, can be achieved. Dennis has been responsible for motivating the team, complimenting the squad he inherited with additional players and instilling in a level of fitness and motivation that has not been seen at the club for many a year. Dennis and Gus have the Board's appreciation and full support and we wish them both a long and successful career at STFC.

For the last week or so, however, the success on the pitch has been overshadowed by reports and rumours both in the press and online, of a 'Boardroom Rift'. There is absolutely no substance to these rumours. The Board would like to take this opportunity to advise the loyal supporters of STFC that no such 'Rift' has occurred. This evening, representatives of the club will be meeting with representatives of the various supporters groups to discuss these matters further.

The current Board consists of Willie Carson, Bob Holt, Sandy Gray and James Wills. Bill Power, for the six months leading up to air-crash, had been in the process of investing funds into the Club. Bill with his business partner, Phil Emmel and had been invited to join the Board. When Bill Power provided funds at the end of last season, it was the first time in five years that funds had been raised externally by someone new rather than from the existing Board. As has been repeatedly reported, the club needs an additional £750,000 per season to balance its cash requirement, and for the past five years the current Board have provided these funds to keep the club afloat.The announcement of Bill Power's withdrawal from the Club the task of raising of funds again becomes the responsibility of the current Board. With this years forecasted overspend, the funds required to balance the books will be greater challenge.

The Board would like to provide further clarification with regards to the role of the advisor to Sir Seton Wills, Mike Diamandis. Please click here (Mike Diamandis) for more details.

The Board would like to express its concern at the reports alluding to a 'falling out' between Mike Diamandis and Bill Power. Since the accident there has been no direct contact between the two parties, due to the severity of Mr Power's injuries and his state of health. Prior to the accident, however, Mr Power and Mr Diamandis enjoyed the beginnings of a healthy relationship.

Mr Diamandis introduced Mr Power to Willie Carson socially, and Mr Power took the opportunity provided to invest in one of Willie Carson's horses, he also is part of a syndicate that owns a horse also co-owned by the Diamandis family. A meeting took place in the close season between Bill Power, Mark Devlin, James Wills and Sir Seton Wills, where an understanding was arrived at with regards to the forthcoming season's expenditure. Mike Diamandis was not present at this meeting as he was taking a step back from being involved with the day-to-day management of the Club.

The Board meeting that took place a few days prior to the air-crash an attempt was made to clarify the understanding of this pre-season meeting with regards to this season's expenditure. However this matter was not resolved, however an agreement was reached that further discussions would take place within the next few days. Prior to that Board Meeting neither Mike Diamandis or Bill Power were totally aware of the various undertakings that the Executives of the Club had committed to, and it was at this Board Meeting that further clarification was asked for by both Mike Diamandis and Bill Power. Several months earlier a memorandum was circulated to the Chief Executive and all senior managers clearly detailing what level of decisions and financial obligations could be undertaken, without prior Board approval. As regards the reported overspend to the budget, the Club are currently rigorously conducting internal inquiry into these matters. Such investigations will take place in private, and the Board has no further comment to make at this stage with regards to this matter.

The Board is confused as to where the rumour of a 'Rift' between Mr Diamandis and Mr Power originated, as it has been well documented that there had been no contact made since the air-crash with Bill Power or his representatives due to the severity of his injuries. Once again, the Board would like to go on record by saying that reports of a 'Rift' are totally unfounded. It is the Board's belief that there are a small minority of individuals who have their personnel grievances with Mr Diamandis and are putting into the public domain inaccurate and deliberately misleading reports, to the detriment of both Mr Diamandis and the Club. The Board would urge these individuals to stop misleading the fans of STFC in this way.

The first time any communication took place since the previously mentioned Board Meeting was last Wednesday. In attendance were Sir Seton Wills, James Wills, Mike Diamandis, Bob Holt, Bill Power's wife Terry Bill Power's business partner Phil Emmel, and a lawyer who represented Bill Power's interests. This lawyer had in the past, represented both Mark Devlin and STFC.The purpose of the meeting was for Terry and Phil to advise us that Bill's return to full health was somewhat protracted, and for those reasons he wished to withdraw from his involvement with the Club. Bill Power's lawyer also expressed his understanding of Bill Power's investment in STFC, which differed from the Board's understanding, however we are sure that these differences can be resolved within the next few weeks. These matters are private and at this time cannot be reported on further.

The Board acknowledges that the way the events of the last week have been inaccurately reported have generated anger and frustration amongst certain sections of the STFC fanbase. The Board also recognises the rights of fans protest peacefully and welcomes discussions with fans to air their concerns. The Board, however, cannot condone the personal insults, slurs and attacks that have been directed towards its members and advisors in recent days. Sir Seton Wills has expressed his personal concern, and should the health, welfare and safety of the board and its advisors, their families, or property, be compromised in any way then Sir Seton will have to consider his continued financial support for the club, the consequences of which are obvious.

As regards the long-term future of STFC, the departure of Bill Power will result in the need for extra funds to be sought. The Board and its advisors will be working tirelessly to secure these funds, and are committed to securing the long-term future stability of STFC. One such meeting with a potential investor took place this morning. As has been the case in the past, Mike Diamandis will be at the forefront of these discussions. The Board therefore finds it irksome that Mr Diamandis is being labelled as the instigator of all the Club's woes. In reality, he has spent the last five years ensuring the club's very survival, whilst simultaneously trying to find a consensus with The Borough Council so that Swindon Town Football Club can move to a 21st century stadium and thereby secure the long term prosperity of the club. The Board urges these individuals who have been so vocal in their opinions of Mr Diamandis to stop hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, make themselves known to the Board, and enter into constructive dialogue as to how best to move the Club forward. The Board also requests that journalists refrain from repeating in the media the plethora of untruths and rumours that are to found on various websites.

If any individual or group can provide additional funding for the Club we would urge these individuals to come forward expressing a desire to invest and become involved in the running of the Club, in part or in full. The Board have made clear, on numerous occasions in the past, that they would welcome and encourage these discussions. Should an individual or group prove to have the financial backing and management ability to ensure the future of the Club an agreement would be formalised and immediately the current Board would resign and relinquish the day to day running of the Club. Prior to the air-crash Mr Power was offered such an opportunity.

The challenges of the next few weeks and months to ensure that the long-term survival and prosperity of the Club are the Boards prime objective. We urge the loyal supporters of STFC to get behind the Club and help us achieve this objective.

The Board of Directors, Swindon Town Football Club


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