Swindon Town won League Two just over a year ago, as one of the few beneficiaries of the controversial points-per-game method used to sort teams following a difficult post-Covid season that still had a number of games left to play.
It was hoped that it would be an opportunity for the club to settle down and secure their standing, especially as they’ve been up and down more times than most in recent years.
Instead, they were promptly relegated, they're currently down to seven players and they have no manager.
What went wrong for the side and is there any hope for the future?
Multiple Managerial Woes
An explanation of sorts can be found when looking at the coaching situation over the past 12 months.
The managerial merry-go-round was in full swing in Swindon as four came and went with alarming regularity.
John McGreal resigned from the club after just 30 days in charge. He didn’t take charge of a single game during his short period with the team.
Then there was John Sheridan who announced enough was enough and he would be resigning as manager during a candid post-match interview;
“I don’t think it’s doing my health any good – it’s not doing anyone’s health any good watching us with the way we’re getting beat week in, week out. It’s not right for the supporters or the club with the position we’re in.”
There was caretaker manager Tommy Wright who was previously charged with misconduct.
The point is, nobody has been able to move the needle, which indicates that problems are likely to run deeper than normal, and couldn’t be solved by a simple formational change, or a couple of new signings.
It’s not like Swindon could be saved from the brink by a bit of canny management. One look at their ownership indicates trouble across the board.
For example, reports suggest that club employees have been paid 60 per cent of their wages for the month of June, while the team has been placed under a transfer embargo after failing to comply with five EFL regulations earlier this month.
They owe Swindon borough council rent for their home ground, and they’re in arrears dating from April last year that amount to a six-figure sum.
Lee Power has been the owner since 2013 and hopes to sell the club if reports are to be believed.
Minority shareholder Clem Morfuni has been touted as a potential buyer and has the full backing of the STFC Official Supporters Club. They say;
“As you will be aware Swindon Town FC and its supporters, community and the people of Swindon have previously suffered greatly from the punishments issued relating to breaches or illegal actions by previous owners.”
That’s fair to an extent, as it’s easy to forget that they became the first ever former Premier League team to be demoted to the lowest Football League division in 2006.
Swindon Town: The Future
It’s hard to battle back from the brink without a first XI, especially after being relegated with only a few points in it after all was said and done.
There do appear to be some inklings of a recovery in the making, including a couple of trials for goalkeeper Lewis Ward and winger Bruno Tavares.
The Trust STFC have also put their faith in new ownership, issuing the following statement;
“We can assure fans that Clem Morfuni remains 100% committed to purchasing STFC, as demonstrated by his application to the EFL for full ownership. Once granted, our hope is that the shares will be transferred immediately and again we call on Lee Power to cooperate with this process to ensure the future of the football club he claims to care for.”
However, they’ll be fighting against the odds and it’ll be an arduous task if they want any hope of securing their long-term future. The truth is that they’ve been set up to fail and are in need of a miracle to navigate their way out of the current mess.
Swindon Town: 2021/22
Along with dealing with the financial fallout of lockdown restrictions last season, staff haven’t been paid for previous months, the squad is threadbare, and they’re without a manager, assistant manager, chief executive, director of football or a strength and conditioning coach.
Of the players remaining, contracts are due to expire next month, while supporters have had to set up a hardship fund to ensure staff get paid. They’re also missing out on the core group that got them promoted in the first place, with the majority long gone.
The owner doesn’t want to be there, while supporters are wary of putting any more money in his pocket.
It all adds up to paint a worrying picture for any fans who are hoping for some respite in League Two.
Swindon dropped to the fourth tier for the first time at the end of the 1981–82 season, with the recent relegation being their fifth appearance overall. Each time, they’ve managed to climb back up the mountain, but the truth is they look to be short of grip as they begin the ascent once more.
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