Swindon Town Fans' Consortium
Your questions answered
Who are the Fans' Consortium?
The Fans' Consortium is a project created by TrustSTFC, the Swindon Town Supporters' Trust, and Mike Wilks,
a life-long Town fan and business executive, to find backers for an alternative to the current board.
We are delighted to have succeeded in attracting the backing of Bill Power and his business partner Phil Emmel, who have
both the funds and the experience to help us achieve our aims.
What are aims of the Fans' Consortium?
- Stop the club going under - the current board have admitted they do not have the funds to pay the final £900,000 CVA payment due next summer. The Fans' Consortium have the funds to cover the club's liabilities
- Stabilise the club - previously we have seen new boards boast of "more money than you can shake a stick at", only for it to transpire they had just enough money to get in and then the pot was dry, leaving the club clinging on "life support" for years. The Fans' Consortium has the financial backing to take the club off life support and start to build for the future.
- Build a platform for success - this club could and should be a stable and successful business, if it was properly run and had the right investment. The Fans' Consortium has the financial backing to invest in both the business and the squad, and the business acumen to run the club as a successful stable business.
- Put at least one elected supporter director on the board - the Fans' Consortium see the fans as the lifeblood of the club. Players, managers, even directors all come and go but it is the fans who are the club and collectively invest millions every year. An elected supporter director on the board could only improve the running of the club, and give fans a voice at the very top of the club, where we belong, as well as bringing some much-needed transparency to how the club is being run.
- Engage in genuine consultation with fans' groups - regular consultation meetings between club management and fans' groups, with a genuine dialogue, not just lip-service,, will ensure the club does not lose touch with its most important component - the fanbase.
- To allow fans a greater slice of the shareholding - the Fans' Consortium will set aside a block of shares for fans to purchase, to protect the club against asset-strippers in the future.
- Ensure that accurate annual reports and accounts are correctly filed within 12 months of the end of each financial year
- Ensure that all bills are paid in a timely fashion, especially those which would put the club at risk - we will not play roulette with the Revenue or Customs over the club’s future.
- An elected supporter-director will ensure transparency and accountability in financial matters such as these.
- Review all business relationships currently undertaken by the club, and assess whether they are genuinely in the best interests of the club, according to basic good business practice
- Be transparent and open regarding all loans and responsibilities the club has to any third parties, including the terms of any CVA or tax liability. We will move away from the era of uncertainty over the club’s financial status and the "surprises" which cannot be allowed to continue to threaten the club's existence.
- To reunite the club, fans and the community - in recent years, the way the club has been run has alienated fans and the local community the club should be at the heart of. The Fans' Consortium, through their links with fans' groups, can rebuild those bridges by working from the ground up, with local people, local businesses and the council.
Why do we need a change?
This board has been in charge for five years already. In that time, they have presided over stagnation and decline - they have failed to deliver on the promise of investors with "more money than you can shake a stick at"; they have failed to secure any serious investment, with the exception of Bill Power, who they fell out with in a matter of months and now seem to want to actively block getting back involved; they have failed (repeatedly) to make any headway on a ground redevelopment; they have alienated fans, local businesses, the local community and the council; they have repeatedly misled fans and shareholders about the parlous financial state of the club; the only thing they have succeeded in doing is getting us relegated to the basement division of the Football League. They've had five years and it's been a miserable record of failure - it's time to admit they have failed, and step aside to let people who can run the club show what can be done.
Why will the Fans Consortium succeed where the current Board have failed?
Because the Fan’s Consortium has ALL the ingredients required:
- Money - we have serious financial backing
- Commitment - to Swindon Town Football Club
- Experience - proven ability in managing a football club and successful businesses
- Integrity - essential in business and dealing with local bodies
- Inclusive - desire to keep fans "close to the action"
- Open and transparent - no more "surprise bills" turning up days after the AGM
- Undertaking to keep the finances of the club in good order
- Undertaking to keep up to date with HM tax authorities
- Undertaking to maintain up to date public financial accounts
Ask yourself this - how many of these commitments can the current board make or have shown any willingness to uphold over the past five years?
Where's the proof the Fans' Consortium has the financial backing to achieve all this?
Bill Power and his business partner Phil Emmel are key backers of the Fans' Consortium - between them they invested £1.2 million in the club at the end of last season, money which was intended as an initial investment. They are serious investors, with a strong track record in business and they have the will and the savvy to turn this club round. Having been involved at the club already, they are well aware of the scale of the difficulties facing the club and would not have committed to this project if they didn't have the funds to see it through. No-one seriously doubts the financial and business credentials of either Bill or Phil, including, presumably, the current board who were happy enough to welcome them on board only a few months ago.
Isn't Bill Power a QPR fan though?
Yes, he is. But then, with the exception of the Wills family, none of the current board are Swindon fans either. Bill Power is on record as saying he wants to continue what he started back in the summer, and unlike most of the current board Bill and Phil have demonstrated their commitment to this football club in hard cash. The response of Swindon fans in sending their good wishes following the plane crash in August deeply touched Bill and his family and further confirmed his view that Town fans are good people he wants to work with to rebuild this club.
Does this mean we'll have millions to spend on players?
The Fans' Consortium recognises that the club has to rebuild both on and off the pitch and part of that will be making funds available to the manager to strengthen where necessary. Bill Power isn't Roman Abramovich, but then clubs like Colchester and Luton have shown you don't need billions to be a success in the Championship, just a well-run club with funds sensibly invested in the playing squad where necessary.
So is the Fans' Consortium just a front for Bill Power then?
Not at all - the idea came from a fans' meeting called by TrustSTFC and the Trust have worked closely with Mike Wilks in putting the consortium project together. Bill Power and Phil Emmel are serious about fan involvement at every level of the club - it is core to their business model and philosophy of how a well-run modern football club should operate. We have also attracted interest from other potential investors (although it's fair to say that Bill and Phil are the first to "sign up" publicly) and would welcome any partners in the consortium who share our vision for the club.
Is the Fans' Consortium trying to oust the Wills family?
No. The Wills family have saved this club many times and the Trust have repeatedly said they have the greatest respect for them, while Bill Power has said he got on well with them. We very much hope that, if they wish to, they will remain involved at the club. However, there needs to be serious changes in the rest of the non-football management side of the club.
Is Paul Sturrock's job safe or will you bring in "our own man"?
Paul Sturrock has an excellent track record at this level of football and higher - everyone involved in the Fans' Consortium is very pleased he is our manager and wants him to stay.
You say an "elected supporter director" on the board - who gets to vote?
The model used at other clubs, and recommended by Supporters’ Direct, the government-funded organisation which acts as the governing body for Supporters’ Trusts across the UK, is that all Trust members get to vote on a one-member, one-vote basis. What is important is that any election is seen to be open and fair, that it follows strict democratic procedures, and that it is not open to being undermined or subverted by (e.g.) fake registrations, "block votes" for organisations which are too easily swayed by a vocal minority etc
Will you pursue the redevelopment of the County Ground?
Yes. The Trust are key partners in the Fans' Consortium and are the only people to make credible headway in producing a framework for proposals that would be acceptable to the local community and the council. We would aim to build on that work to deliver both a stadium and associated sports and other community facilities this town and this club deserves, working in partnership with the council and community groups instead of simply demanding taxpayers' assets for unworkable housing developments.