“Let’s work Together” – An open letter from the board of the Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust
As Swindon Town supporters, we are living in challenging times. Over the last 18 months we’ve witnessed complicated court disputes around ownership and seen the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. These critical issues have heightened uncertainty around the future of our club.
Recent headlines claim that Swindon Town is “on the brink”, “on the rockface, hanging over the edge” and struggling to survive another month. On the surface, there seems little hope.
This open letter is the start of the club’s revival and we are calling upon all parties associated with Swindon Town Football Club to put forward their ideas for a brighter future.
From those who currently preside over our club, to other shareholders and even those involved in court cases, we want to hear from you.
We need leadership, transparency, urgency, and a clear plan and vision.
We have long and painful memories. Having been placed into administration twice and also twice fought off winding-up orders from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs over unpaid tax, it’s only natural that supporters have a detailed interest in how their club is being run.
Swindon Town has united our community and brought us many special memories. Match day at the County Ground sees families and friends come together for one common passion and for many the connections formed around the club play a huge part in their social life and their all-round mental wellbeing.
The attachment to the club is passed down through generations, with youngsters coming to matches alongside parents and grandparents. The joy, the happiness, the disappointment that comes with watching football is exhilarating and it provides a unique and common bond.
The club also plays a part in the local economy, providing jobs to many through the day-to-day employees, the match day stewards, catering staff, right through to local shops and pubs.
Fear and uncertainty can leave many supporters feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over the direction of our club. It’s for these reasons that we need answers.
At our AGM back in 2017 we made a call for unity between the fans, the club staff, the media and the council. “Let’s work together” was our slogan and four years on, we are making the same plea.
Survival will need hard work, dedication, honesty and integrity from everyone involved and we must have a clear plan for 2021 and beyond. We need a vision for the future.
Our plan must be to not only survive this current situation, but we need to ensure that as a club and community we come out the other side and thrive. Let’s be positive.
Season tickets for the 21/22 season are due to go on sale and no doubt the funds from this would provide a much-needed financial boost in these difficult times. But it is not that simple.
Thousands of supporters purchased season tickets for the 20/21 season and over the last six months have heard nothing from the club. No options have been offered – no refunds, no discounts, nothing.
Season ticket holders are given access to watch matches on TV through the iFollow system, but at £10 a match this is valued at £230 per season. This short-changes these loyal supporters significantly, especially those who may have purchased multiple season tickets for family members.
Many supporters would be willing to forgo these costs, but many will also have lost their jobs and will be struggling. For these people not to have a refund or partial refund option will be seen as very unfair.
Other supporters will refuse to purchase a season ticket because they have trust issues in relation to financial dealings at the club. It’s hardly a surprise because short-form abbreviated annual accounts are released every year, without any detail. Supporters are left to analyse clips from radio interviews which often contradict other news stories from in and around the club.
The annual accounts are again due for release and our first request is for the club leadership to be honest, open and transparent around these. Let’s start afresh.
We need a full set of financial accounts for the year just gone, and management accounts for the current year to-date. We need an annual report along with some commentary around the figures, and we need to see the forecasts for the year ahead.
We need the opportunity to ask questions, give feedback and contribute toward the club’s survival and recovery. This can be easily achieved through a virtual public meeting and as a Supporters Trust we would be happy to host and facilitate this.
By doing this everyone can play their part. Once the issues are understood we can come together and seek further investment, we can help take Swindon Town through this rough patch.
Whilst there is talk of interest from the US in “Able Company Swindon LLC”, with respect – we know nothing about this company. If this interest is genuine, then we invite you to engage with supporters and let us hear your plans for our club.
Supporters, Media, local politicians and business leaders, we need your support too. “Let’s Work Together” and make a plan that ensures Swindon Town Football Club has a successful future.
You can visit our website www.TrustSTFC.tv to send us feedback via the online ‘Contact Us’ form, or you can email us via email@example.com. Also don’t forget to subscribe to our “Trust Matters” video series on YouTube where we will continue to discuss off-the-field matters related to the club.
These are tough times but don’t forget that Swindon Town has been in existence for 142 years and will survive this current crisis, because it is more than just a football club, it is a community.
We the fans, are Swindon Town Football Club; and as the saying goes, “Football is nothing without fans”.
The board of the Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust