Swindon Town owner Lee Power has revealed the club’s quest for promotion has so far cost him £6 million of his own money.
Accounts published last week for 2017-18 showed the League two club made a £1.7 million loss for the year, with Power, who took over ownership of the Robins in December 2013, loaning the club about £3m.
The Robins suffered relegation from League One in 2017.
Commenting on the 1.7m loss Power said ‘It stems from relegation.’
‘You do get more than the odd supporter who thinks there are other things going into this football club other than me putting millions of pounds in.’
‘At least I hope that the supporters can see that I am funding this football club, I have done since day one when I’ve been here, but the accounts show that and being in this league turns out to be very expensive.
“Contrary to reports, we’ve got one of the biggest budgets in this league and people can see that through those accounts.’
Three wins and a draw in their last four outings have seen the Wiltshire club mount a late challenge for the playoffs under manager Richie Wellens; they are currently tenth, four points behind Forest Green in seventh.
Commenting after their 3-0 home victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Colchester United in front of 6000 supporters, Wellens was looking to the long term. Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser, he said ‘Things are starting to change here. The feel-good factor is coming back. I want us to take small steps to turn attendance numbers from 6,000 into 7,000 and then 8,000.’
It is a view apparently shared by Power who says he also has an eye on the bigger picture. He wants success on the pitch to be accompanied by an improvement in the infrastructure at the club, with plans on going to improve training facilities and buy the freehold of the County ground from the council. However, Power admits that upon completion of these deals, it may be down to him to find someone with deeper pockets to take the club to the next level. ‘I had a five-year plan, and I haven’t made it, we wanted to be in the Championship, but we aren’t.’ he said.
‘But if in a year or two years time, when we can get these deals across the line, if I wasn’t to be here then at least owning our own stadium, having a training ground, I can attract a big investor that had more money than I have, to take it to the next level and then hopefully I’ve left a good legacy.’
‘But until that time I need to get these thing done and keep investing in the team and hopefully get back to League One.’
Reading between the lines of Powers comments one interpretation by Swindon fans could be that Power is looking to get the club in shape for a potential sale, having realised he doesn’t have enough money to fulfil his ambition and take the club to the Championship.
While it may appear noble to fund a football club so generously it should be noted that the money Power has put in the club is in fact in the form of loans for which the club will no doubt pay him interest until it pays him back.
While some supporters will welcome the owner’s honesty, others will question his motives.
However, the revelations once again throw up some important questions about the long term sustainability of clubs in the lower leagues. It cannot be healthy for a club the size of Swindon to carry so much debt.
It will be interesting to see how events play out in Wiltshire.