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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Update on Ex-QPR Chairman Bill Power's Swindon Investment Effort

SWINDON TOWN: Consortium challenge Town over investor
By Andy Cryer

Andrew Andronikou, Town's CVA supervisor, above, has revealed a major new investor could be set to help Swindon Town Football Club.
AFTER months of stand-offs and frustration, fans consortium leader Mike Wilks is urging Town to clear up all the takeover uncertainty one way or the other.
While the Bill Power-backed consortium still wait for an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to be signed to allow talks to begin, revelations of a new investor have thrown their bid into even more doubt.
Wilks insists they will concede defeat if the club can show proof of the imminent deal but warns the clock is ticking if it proves to be yet another false dawn.
Swindon Town released a statement yesterday insisting the deal was well under way but refused to provide details until it had been sealed.
Wilks has urged them to either finalise the mystery deal' and make it public or stop stalling their own takeover bid and sign the NDA to allow talks between the club and the consortium to begin.
He warns any new investor would need at least £5 million to sort out the debts while insisting consortium backer Bill Power is still determined to help invest in the club's future.
Wilks said: "If they do have this mysterious backer who is about to plough millions into the club, then fair enough. Announce who it is and we will accept that.
"But time is running out fast and if this investment isn't as solid as made out then please start talking to us and trying to sort out the future.
"Paul Sturrock is making noises he will have a small budget for next season and is warning fans not to expect too much.
"Quite honestly they should be investing in this football club, not talking about reducing the budgets. We should be building on promotion. I know Bill Power will invest in players."
CVA supervisor Andrew Andronikou said on Tuesday that the deal would secure the club's long-term future, but Wilks admits he is still wary, citing the club's accounts as a cause for concern.
He said: "The accounts show this club is effectively bankrupt. This is as damning an indictment of a set of accounts as I have ever seen.
"Whoever this mysterious investor is is going to have to have pretty deep pockets because about £5million is needed just to drag it back to square one.
"For me the timing of the CVA is baffling because it states in black and white the last payment is due in June. How does Andronikou figure there is another year to pay it?"
He added: "They have said there is a mystery backer about five or six times already. I really don't know what to think anymore.
"If I was in their position I would be very keen to avoid any disruption for as long as I could because they are about to get a quarter of a million pounds through season ticket sales.
"Why would they pre-announce this now? If there is a serious investor why would they not come out and say who it was?
"The problem we have is they don't want to play ball. We can't force someone to sit down and talk to us.
"Since September 11 when I offered the opportunity to sit down with an NDA, the offer has been on the table.
"It has not changed one iota. Why they feel they are in such a strong position is baffling to me.
"It is the ordinary fan I feel sorry for because they must be wondering what on earth is going on.
"There are a number of people in the consortium who are willing and able to invest the funds needed to stabilise the situation and put the club on a sound footing for the future.
"The fact that Bill Power and Phil Emmel have stuck around for the last nine months shows their commitment to the club and to moving forward."
A club statement said: "Like all complex deals of this nature, although the majority of the issues have been agreed, nothing has yet has been confirmed in writing.
"The club will update the STFC fanbase further as soon as it is prudent to do so."
This is Wiltshire

This is Swindon Town - 'Investor can take us back where we belong'
CLIFF Puffett has urged Town fans to embrace any potential new investor and insists the ‘mystery backer’ could be just what is needed to reawaken a ‘sleeping giant’.
In the wake of the revelation that a new investor is tantalisingly close to securing Town’s long-term future, the former Swindon chairman insists it can only be good news for the club.

Puffett reveals he had already heard whispers of a potential big-money investor over the past few weeks and is confident a deal can be pushed through in the not-too-distant future.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic news for the club. You want what the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea have got, I know that is pie in the sky but we can at least dream.

“This investment, if it happens, would be a tremendous breath of fresh air and would give the club the chance of getting back to the sort of status it should be.

“We want to be in the Championship at least. I think we have shown in the last few weeks we are bigger club than where we are and maybe the investment will help us realise that.”

News of a potential deal has brought about inevitable cynicism from long-standing Town fans, who have heard it all before, but for Puffett it is a time to rejoice.

He said: “I have been out on the street and have only heard a good response coming from people. I have to admit I am surprised if anyone was questioning how good news this was.

“When Town were in Division One they wanted to be a Championship club and that has not changed. We have had crowds of over 14,000 in recent weeks and that shows our potential. This town could support the Championship and perhaps people can now start dreaming of that actually happening.”

With a feel-good factor already evident in the town after promotion to League One just a fortnight ago, Puffett is hopeful that vibrancy can now remain.

He said: “This is the icing on the cake for me. As I said before it is fantastic news.

“This club is somewhat of a sleeping giant but perhaps it is about to be woken up.

“Sir Seton Wills has dug in year in year out to keep the club going and I am sure this news would come as a tremendous relief for him as well.”

Trust’s cautious welcome

WHILE former club chairman Cliff Puffett has welcomed the potential backer with open arms, TrustSTFC continue to reserve a “cautious welcome”.

Following fans’ consortium leader Mike Wilks’ remarks in Thursday’s Advertiser that they would step aside if the club can prove a new deal is imminent, TrustSTFC have released their own statement.
It said: “The board of TrustSTFC have given a cautious welcome to news from the CVA supervisor Andrew Andronikou that Swindon Town are in negotiations with possible new investors, but we still harbour severe concerns over the long-term survival of the football club.

“Mr Andronikou was quoted as saying the club is close to a deal that would ‘secure the clubs future for the next three to four years’. A surprising claim given that the fans’ consortium has had the funds and expertise in place to secure the club’s short and long-term future since November of last year, and as yet the club has still failed to sit down and talk seriously to the Consortium backers about a deal.

“We welcome new investment in the football club, but injections of cash are only half the story. How that money is spent is at least as important if not more so.

“The fans’ consortium offer for the club, first made last November, remains on the table, and the consortium is still committed to entering into negotiations with the present owners.” This is Swindon Town

This is Swindon Town - Editorial
The white knight or a false dawn?

COULD this really be the news every Town fan has been waiting for? Could that ‘white knight’ really be about to ride to the rescue and steer the club towards a brighter future?
You can’t blame anyone – particularly those backing Bill Power’s rival consortium – for showing more than a little cynicism towards the latest news of a potential ‘new investor’ at the County Ground.
After all many supporters will be quick to say: “We have heard it all before.’’

Seasoned Town observers will be more than a little cautious – it’s not the first time talk of fresh investment at SN1 has been bandied about.

But when the CVA supervisor, the man with a sizeable say in the fate of the club, comes out with such an announcement, surely it has to carry that bit more credence?

No-one should – or will be – getting carried away before any investor is officially announced and plenty of questions will be asked – particularly by the Swindon Advertiser – in the next few days and weeks about the exact details.

But on the back of a return to League One, it could be just the news the club needs to kick on.

It is to be hoped this latest revelation will not prove a false dawn, or another shot in the propaganda war which has raged over the past few months. This is Swindon Town

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