TOWN FLIER is the weekly fan's blog about all matters relating to Swindon Town FC
THE CAREER diplomat and the brilliant but bonkers manager – it’s an unlikely partnership but it makes for another fascinating turn in the recent history of Swindon Town.
Sir William Patey, former British Ambassador to the Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq and a non executive director of HSBC, has this week been appointed chairman of Swindon Town. His first job will be to try to keep the volatile Paolo Di Canio on the payroll. He may need all his undoubted powers of diplomacy.
Former chairman Jeremy Wray was brutally ousted at the weekend by his best friend of 25 years standing, Andrew Black, the club’s major investor. Wray was Black’s best man and godfather to his son.
From the outside, Wray appeared the perfect chairman. They are usually only visible during transfer negotiations and in times of trouble and there have been plenty of both since Wray took over.
He was honest and straightforward, hugely popular with the fans -- not least for bringing Paolo to the club in the first place – and surefooted as he tiptoed through the minefield inevitably created by his manager’s outbursts.
Yet he has been cast aside by a man that 99 per cent of Swindon fans would not recognise if he was in the same County Ground hot dog queue.
As for an explanation, we have read only vague Twitterings that Wray may have focused on football at the expense of the commercial side of the club. The brutal analysis must be that it is easier to find a new chairman than a figure prepared to pump millions into the business, as the founder of Betfair has done.
I wonder if we have seen the last of those great sources of entertainment at the CG these days – the Prosecco moment at the home dugout. There was another of them in the 2-2 draw with Coventry on Saturday. Di Canio was beside himself with joy when James Collins scored a cracking late equaliser and set off down the touchline, pumping the air in celebration.
Approaching the linesman, he looked set to leap on the official and wrap his legs around his chest, but thought better of it and settled for slapping the assistant ref on both arms. Maybe he is mellowing after all The draw was the least Swindon deserved. Without reaching their dizzy heights, they should have been ahead at half-time, but were 2-0 down thanks to two City set-pieces.
But in a tepid first 25 minutes of the second half, Town looked as if they had received flu jabs at half-time rather than in midweek. It had developed into a scrappy, stop-start match and the unthinkable third straight home defeat looked possibile.
Then City’s John Fleck was pole-axed with a nasty head injury and stretchered off – and it was Swindon who were transformed by the hold-up.
They should even have snatched all three points only for Adam Rooney to send a powder-puff header from close range in stoppage time straight at Sky Blues keeper Murphy.
Paolo sounded a worried man afterwards and now we know it wasn’t simply because midfielder Alan Navarro had joined his growing injury list.
He wants the FA-imposed transfer embargo lifted and the board to invest further in a top striker as he seems to have fallen out of love with all of his own bar the injured Andy Willaims.
And now, of course, he has lost his main ally in Wray, the chairman who couldn’t say ‘no’.
Paolo’s hand-picked squad is one of the highest-paid in the division and while the new chairman has said the club will not be diverted from their ‘Championship in three years’ plan, he may tell Paolo something he does not want to hear – just manage.