CHAIRMAN Lee Power says the sale of the freehold to the County Ground to Swindon Town represents the deal that is in the best interests of the club.

Last month, the club revealed they had made an offer to Swindon Borough Council to purchase the freehold to the stadium that has been the club’s home since 1896. That offer came on the back of a previous bid from supporters group Trust STFC.

Power and Town non-executive director Clem Morfuni have met with the council regarding the project and have made an offer that meets their valuation for the site, although no deal has yet been struck.

The addition of Morfuni to the club’s board last summer made the prospective purchase of the County Ground by the club much more viable given his status as founder of Australian company Axis, who have a history of developing stadia, having worked on Wembley Stadium and are currently involved in the construction of Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground.

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Swindon Town chairman Lee Power

Power says further meetings are planned next month and he hopes a deal can be concluded.

“Things have changed for us a little bit as we have a partnership now with Axis, who are well-versed in those type of developments, and it made sense then,” said Power.

“I am not a developer and until I found the right person that could come in and focus on that, because there is a lot of work to be done, then there was no point us having an interest.

“The council told us what the valuation was, we have met that valuation and we look forward to hopefully purchasing the stadium soon.

“We have got plans in place and we have shown the council. We will go back to the council again in March and have another meeting and present those proposals to them.

“Obviously they have a job to do too, they have to try to get the best price they can for the site and also that they are happy with what is going to happen to the County Ground.

“It is the football club’s home and it has been for a million years. It will be for the next million years whoever buys it. For us, it just makes total sense for the football club to buy it.

“Obviously the Trust are looking to do something. Maybe they were doing that because the football club wasn’t in a position at the time to be able to.

“Now we are, we are hoping the council will look at it and we can do a deal with them.”

Power also revealed that the development of a new training ground for the club in Highworth remains ongoing and intends to announce and update on that soon.

The Swindon chairman says the successful conclusion of both projects would put the club in the strongest position possible both now and in the future.

“I think this club has never had an opportunity to entice big owners because they haven’t owned their own stadium, they haven’t had their own training facility,” said Power.

“The training facility hasn’t gone dead, we have been working hard for the last six months. These things don’t happen overnight and there will be an announcement on that in the next month or six weeks. We have only been with DPDS this week going through stuff with them.

“What I am trying to do as an owner is put the football club in the best footing I can so when my time is up here, as a football club we have a ground to sell with a development opportunity and a training facility.
“Hopefully that will attract more what I would call ‘blue chip’ investors.

“When the club got sold last time there weren’t too many people biting their hands off to take it, probably for a number of those reasons.

“Now for the first time in its history, the club has got an opportunity to buy the stadium – and hopefully that will happen – it then makes a big difference for the next person coming in.”