It has been over nine months since we came together with Swindon Town Football Club and Swindon Borough Council to announce the County Ground purchase campaign, but fast forward through a Spring, Summer and Autumn of legal paperwork and Joint Venture development, and we arrive at the end of the year in mid-Winter and very close to finalisation of our work.
I know the lack of newsletters and general comms this year has probably been a cause for concern, however the legal process is not easily reported on, and with multiple stakeholders involved it gets complicated. There was always the fear that people would become fatigued by the apparent lack of progress, so we’ve pushed on through the year in a silent but efficient way.
Behind the scenes we have been issuing weekly reports to all parties and ensuring that discussions stay on track, as it’s fair to say that deals such as this can get very complicated without ongoing management.
With multiple parties involved and many different angles to consider, the conversations between lawyers representing the Football Club, the Trust and the Council take time.
There have been hundreds of emails and dozens of meetings and telephone calls, and everyone involved has had to compromise at times to keep things moving forward.
That said, our aim has always been to ensure that we come out of this series of negotiations with a deal that enables the football club to progress and grow, and also a deal that keeps supporters interests secure for the future.
We last issued a formal update back in August that went into more detail on the Joint Venture agreement, Sale contract and new Lease arrangement, and it’s these that have been the subject of much debate.
Throughout the year we have had tremendous support from the local legal team at Royds Withy King on the Sale Agreement and Lease, along with David Bresnick from our long-term legal advisors Cooley of London who have helped us with the JV. Agreements have been debated endlessly and both firms have worked tirelessly on behalf of supporters. The work is not over but we would like to thank them for their help.
We would also like to extend a massive thank you to every single one of our Red Army Fund contributors – although some of the legal work is being provided pro-bono, we do have costs to consider there and without your support and the support of other local companies, we would never have got this far.
At this point in time we still have healthy funds in the Trust bank account and once the sale process is complete we will be discussing with those contributors on how best to proceed with the current balance we have.
Thanks also to those of you who have contacted us via email and social media with questions, advice, offers and words of encouragement. All of this has gone a long way in helping us to make progress toward our ultimate goal of shared ownership of the County Ground.
We had a really successful AGM back in March, and had some amazing feedback – the current plan is to have a bigger and better AGM this coming March, where we will hopefully be celebrating on multiple fronts – stadium purchase, impending promotion and also the 50th Anniversary of Swindon Town’s Anglo-Italian Cup success of 1970.
On behalf of everyone at the Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
With progress being made both on and off the pitch, here’s to an even bigger and more successful 2020!
Twitter: @mightymyte / @TrustSTFC