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Are Perceived Ownership Troubles Affecting Swindon's League Two Performances?

Swindon Town has spent the last two decades bouncing between English football's third and fourth tier. Since 2017/18 The Robins have spent only a single season in League One, as League Two mid-table mediocrity appears to have become an accepted norm at the club since its 2020/21 relegation.

Yes, Ben Garner led the team to sixth place and the League Two playoff semi-finals in 2021/22, but 10th-place under Steve Mildenhall last season cemented the belief of many frustrated fans that Swindon, to truly progress, needs more clarity and transparency from owner Clem Morfuni.

The Australian businessman took over the League Two club in July 2021 following a protracted legal battle and, in recent months, has been the subject of rumours that he's attempting to sell the club. Swindon Town was carrying debts of £7.5m when Morfuni took charge, but he had reduced these to around £1m by last October.

Further rumours have since surfaced that players hadn't received their wages and that Morfuni is selling off shares in the Wiltshire club.

Perceived boardroom instability and potential unrest don't help playing matters. Since October, Swindon's form has been alarmingly poor under new manager Michael Flynn. The Robins currently lie last but one in League Two's recent form table and 11th position overall. With four straight losses preceding a welcome away draw with Harrogate Town, there is cause for concern.

Swindon Town has also drifted in the betting with online betting sites, with sportsbooks now only offering odds of 150/1 on Swindon for the League One title. Online bookies still have some faith in the chances of a Robins revival as, according to the betting odds, the club remains eighth-favourite to win the league in 2023/24.

Betting odds are the prices bookmakers offer to you for a bet, such as 1/2 for England to beat Italy. The better the price offered by the bookmakers, the greater your potential payout will be. Prices can vary from site to site, with many offshore bookies more generous with their odds than regulated, onshore sites (source: https://www.techopedia.com/gambling/best-offshore-sportsbooks). However, even they don’t see the potential of Swindon this season.

Morfuni has attempted to quash the rumours and ease the fears of fans and staff alike. He recently issued a public statement addressing the concerns:

"There have been reports and speculation concerning player payments and HMRC issues which I can confirm have been paid and also paid on time … In the past fortnight, I have injected £250,000 to stabilise the club and I will continue to stabilise the club as and when needed."

The Swindon Town owner further stated that he has sold shares in the club but reaffirmed his commitment going forward.

"As I've emphasised before and will reiterate now: Swindon Town is not up for sale. However, from time to time we receive expressions of interest from potential people to buy the club [but] entertaining such discussions does not equate to actively seeking a sale, even if some may interpret it that way.

Our plan is to focus on new revenue streams for the club, we also need to renegotiate all of our less favourable commercial deals and enhance our offerings to generate additional revenue."

On the surface, Swindon Town appears to be a club in turmoil. With Clem Morfuni's positive words and continued dedication, signs are that the negative rumours will begin to decrease. The Robins coaching and playing staff need to get back on-field business and concentrate on climbing the League Two table over the remainder of the season.

Published by Patrick Jane