What’s the story, mourning McCrory..?

After a quick resolution to the brouhaha in the boardroom, Jed McCrory “reluctantly agreed to step down as chairman and board member of Swindon Town FC with immediate effect”.  Ron Smith recalls his experiences of meeting the former Town chairman…

Twitter is a wonderful tool. I wouldn’t have been able to have developed this site without the networking it brought, however I never imagined that one day all Swindon Town fans would have the ability to have a 24/7 direct channel of communication with our club’s chairman.

I initially approached the ‘tweet button’ with caution. Unlike some, I’m not the type to go out of my way to criticise, or abuse; after defeat I never tweeted “sort it out you c#nt” to @JedMcCoy. It wasn’t until mid April, walking to the Crewe game at the County Ground and hearing news on BBC Wiltshire that ‘Lee Power is set to buy the club from Jed McCrory’ that my first tweet to Jed “Yet more proof @JedMcCoy and co have no funds”. It yielded a bemused response from McCrory. BBC Wiltshire proved to be correct in the end and I wasn’t entirely wrong…

Fast forward a few weeks and I had my first opportunity to meet McCrory. The Advertiser had arranged for a first open forum between TrustSTFC, Jed McCrory and the Supporters’ Club, which I attended as part of the Trust. McCrory arrived with Steve Murrall “fresh from a meeting with the Football League” and appeared uncertain at what reaction they would face from 12 supporters intent on interrogating the ‘asset strippers’ – as some were claiming without proof.

The whole experience was uncomfortable, not least because the next day I came down with ‘flu and was off work for two weeks. McCrory was clearly suspicious about his treatment by the press – who were also in attendance that evening – and was starting to see some backlash as soon as ‘Fredi’ appeared in the Adver comments section. A few diplomatic answers were provided until the mics were switched off, but the general tone of the evening portrayed a man uneasy at being thrust into doing business in the open for the first time.

His reluctant and disjointed answers hid details beneath a mountain of words. No wonder he was concerned about being misquoted – nobody could remember accurately any answer as long as his were. This, perhaps wrongly, gave the impression of someone with something to hide, or there was another element of the engagement that was not quite right; seemingly lost in translation.

As the summer passed and Power’s involvement became gradually more recognised by the club, a quick ‘Hello, good to see you again’ comment from me to Jed after the STFC Business Plan presentation in July delayed my journey home for over an hour. What followed was an enthralling rollercoaster of a conversation, I mean lecture, from Jed. I don’t believe that ‘get a word in edgeways’ is a phrase known to him…

The sensitivities of what he ‘revealed’ seemed like subjects that would be covered in his non-disclosure agreement with Andrew Black. His openness and a willingness to discuss a variety of issues was a surprise, including: the intimacies of his deal to buy the club and £3m future liabilities to the previous consortium; general criticism of the previous board; allegations of player agents demanding significant sums to cancel contracts; a frank review of the Adam Rooney debacle; the impact of an Italian match-fixer and his arrangement with the club; and then there was Paolo Di Canio’s legacy…

We started on a guided tour behind the scenes of the Arkells Stand where Jed and Steve showed me, Paul Wardell and another fan the dank and claustrophobic spaces where Paolo “forced the youth team to use as their changing rooms” after they were moved out of the main changing room. To be honest it was an apt way of getting his point across at a change of approach that he was implementing, as well as summing up Paolo’s approach to the club in general and how he actually left no legacy.

Despite all the talk that evening, I came away confused, not knowing what to believe. There was just too much information flowing to make sense and to understand where the truth was hiding, particularly how this squared up to what had been discussed and alleged in various forums. A few weeks later a trail of tweets with Jed, albeit on a minor issue, justified why caution would remain my approach.

In answering to a tweet about the roof on the Stratton Bank Jed replied “awaiting planning approval”. This was simply untrue as no valid application had ever been submitted; I can easily establish these things.

Jed McCrory - Twitter

I offered Jed three further occasions to correctly confirm that in fact no valid application was ever submitted, but he kept up the pretense anyway. While I understood the reasons for McCrory wanting to appear proactive, never idle and leading to impress, particularly when responding to supporters’ questions via social media, however, what I always wanted to see were the facts and ultimately delivery of projects. The problem was that something so small clouded my judgement, for better or for worse. From that moment onwards I just didn’t know what to believe and this whole episode led me to question even more what I had heard before…

With Lee Power now at the helm I doubt any of us will have the same access as we did with Jed McCrory. I’m starting to believe that’s a good thing…

5 comments

  • Told everyone exactly what they wanted to hear at that time with no regard for accuracies. Took from the club and he knows it. I think he actually believes his own words. Bullshitter. Why else could he not answer your request about planning? Transparency he went on about was a complete joke. Fredi was right about him.

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  • When it comes to Jed’s legacy it will be partly to do with keeping the club out of administration but also the longer-term future that he has created – and that will take time to emerge. Those 10 year deals on catering – how much do they hamstring the club’s ability to generate revenue for a short-term cash input and what deals have been done on advertising to generate income.
    And, of course, Lee Power. For, like any manager, chairmen are defined by what comes after them, and Jed very much brought Lee Power to the club…

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  • I seem to have hit a nerve with our former chairman. Unfortunately he’s taken my tweet completely out of context – which sought to question the ability of a journalist to state “The guy wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but he certainly deserves every-one’s respect.” I know plenty of people who admire the guy and would say he deserves their respect, while there are others who wouldn’t agree with the statement. I trust that this article above confirms why the level of respect that I had for Jed has reduced over time. He also seems to have forgotten that I’ve already publicly thanked him for his efforts while at the club…

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  • Pingback: No Re-Dawn of the Jed | The Washbag

  • Pingback: A Jed end for McCrory as Lee remains in Power | The Washbag

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