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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Swindon "Versus" Ex-QPR Chairman Bill Power

This is Witshire - Power confident he will win legal battle

Swindon Town may be claiming a first round victory' in their legal battle against Bill Power - but the former QPR chairman is still "100 per cent confident" he will win the war.

The club released a strongly-worded statement yesterday, urging Power to settle his claim for £1.12m out of court, after his attempt to bring the judgement forward was rebuffed.

Town say the High Court's decision to hear the case in full proves the strength of their argument that Power's money was invested in shares, but Power has rubbished these claims.

He is still adamant the £1.12m was a loan and insists the latest court judgement has done nothing but prolong Town's losing battle.

The club have also questioned the real motives behind Power's court battle, while insisting the acceptance by him and business partner Phil Emmel of the decision to continue the legal process shows even they think they might have got it wrong.

Power invested £1.12m into the club in the summer of 2006 and there has been debate ever since about whether it was a loan or as shares.

He said: "I am totally speechless they have put that statement up. I don't know what to say really other than I will see them in court.

"The court's decision to hear the case certainly does not mean we have lost. Far from it, we will win as it will be proved the money was a loan." This is Swindon


Bill Power and Phil Emmel have previously said how much they support Swindon Town Football Club, to the extent that they have publicly backed a bid to buy it. On January 25th of this year Bill Power was quoted in the local press as saying "The fans consortium does indeed represent a highly motivated group of investors and fans who share a common passion both for STFC and football generally."

On 25th July, Bill Power and Phil Emmel started a case in the High Court against the Club and its holding company, Swindon Town F.C. Limited ("Holdings") claiming repayment of £1.12m which they said was only loaned to the Club, whereas it is the Club and Holdings view that this value was in fact the price for shares that Bill Power and Phil Emmel had bought in Holdings.

Holdings and the Club have strenuously denied the claim. Apart from anything else, as Bill Power and Phil Emmel well know, neither Holdings nor the Club would have been in a position to repay loans of this amount, so they would not have accepted the money other than in return for shares sold.

Matters came to a head recently when Bill Power and Phil Emmel asked the court to short-circuit the trial procedure by giving them judgment without even waiting to see how their claim would be defended. The strength of the response by Holdings and the Club to this request, however, has led to Bill Power and Phil Emmel's lawyers, Davis & Co., withdrawing their application and accepting immediately that the case can't be short circuited and will have to be aired fully in court.In other words they accept that Bill Power and Phil Emmel might have got it wrong.

Whilst the case is still ongoing, Holdings and the Club are left wondering what the real motivation behind this claim is. Why did Bill Power and Phil Emmel wait a whole year before bringing the claim? How does this action fit with their apparent support for the Club and its fans?

Speaking for the Club, Bob Holt commented: "When things are going well on the pitch and we are trying to secure the financial future of the Club through sale negotiations, this litigation is a huge unnecessary distraction. The money we are spending on lawyers should be spent elsewhere."

Speaking for Holdings, Mike Diamandis said: "Much of the present ill feeling towards the Board emanated from a meeting of October 6th last year when Paul Davis presented a report regarding Bill Power's departure from the Club.

"The Fans Consortium, lead by Paul Davis and Mike Wilks, failed to make a formal offer for the club yet has harangued the current Board and the Wills family for the last 12 months, during which time the team has enjoyed promotion from League Two and a solid start to the current season. In September of last year Sir Seton Wills was planning for the long-term future of the club, but by Christmas this negative campaign had resulted in Sir Seton's decision to sell the Football Club.

"Now that Bill Power and Phil Emmel have seen the strength of our case, I hope we can sit down and resolve this amicably. I await their call." Swindon

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