Known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns at Swindon Town in 2015

Hooray it’s 2015! A Happy New Year to all of our readers! Ron Smith will start this year, as he will the next, by speculating about the year ahead at Swindon Town…

To gaze into my crystal ball and speculate about 2015 at the County Ground I’ll apply the logic of Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of State for Defence who infamously stated: “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Known knowns…

The January transfer window has started and we know with a great degree of certainty is that there will be transfer activity at the County Ground. This assumption is because only once in the previous 12 January windows has there been no January signing or departure, also Mark Cooper has met with Lee Power and hinted that “we’ll get someone in…” with midfield reinforcements the key area for strengthening – as well as a move for non-league striker Jermaine Hylton. As for departures, hopefully the Asia Cup will put off potential suitors for Massimo Luongo and Yaser Kasim. The other known is that the transfer activity in January will not be the sole determining factor in our success or otherwise in the second half of the season. So don’t get carried away along with Jim White and his yellow tie on deadline day as the season doesn’t end until May.

Another known, and I’ll be brave enough to state it now, is that Swindon Town WILL NOT be relegated in 2014/15. Let’s rejoice! With 47 points in the bag and only three points away from the ‘magical’ 50 barrier, Town will not be in danger of relegation this season. In fact, in each of Town’s eight seasons ending in relegation, Swindon Town had never accumulated greater than 27 points as of the 31st December and subsequently been relegated – the actuals from relegation seasons range from 15 (93/94) to 27 points (64/65).

Known unknowns…

We’ll certainly miss both Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo, who have made the trip to play in the Asia Cup in midfield for Iraq and Australia respectively. They’ll be missed as there are only external factors why the aren’t appearing in Mark Cooper’s XI, however we don’t yet know who will deputise, will these two be existing squad members or even how they’ll perform? With Jake Reeves departing, Town remains with Louis Thompson, Ben Gladwin and Anton Rodgers as the club’s only midfielders with first team experience. We know Cooper can spring a surprise with players featuring out-of-position. Subject to Nathan Thompson’s return, Jack Stephens can deputise in the holding midfielder role; Nathan Byrne could be switched to play behind the strikers if Jack Barthram played right full-back; also Amari’i Bell could feature, uncomfortably, in midfield if needed – albeit it seems his loan will not be renewed. Looking beyond May, of course, there is the unanswered question of who will replace Norwich City bound Louis Thompson?

Given we’re not going to be relegated, will Town be starting the 2015/16 season in the Championship or League One? A return of 47 points from 23 games is Town’s best return since 1995/96, when, of course, Steve McMahon led a side full of Premiership quality to the Division Two championship. That experience cannot be a barometer for success as that year’s 2nd placed side after 23 games, Crewe on 44 points, picked up only a further 29 to just scrape into the play-offs. Also eventual runners up Oxford United went on an incredible run to collect 49 from 69 points from January to rise from 13 points behind Town in 12th to eventual automatic promotion. The crucial factor for Town this season is the 15 point gap to 7th position. This provides the essential cushion to ensure an end of season shot at promotion through at least the play-offs will be highly likely (I’ll caveat that, see below).

Unknown unknowns…

The principal unknown remains the ownership of the club, in terms of the outcome of the Court of Appeal case to determine the majority shareholder in Seebeck87 Ltd. Although we know the winner of this case will either be Lee Power (through his Swinton Reds 20 Ltd holding company) or Jed McCrory. What is unknown to us is when this case will be heard at the Court of Appeal; also whether the case raises such a significant point of law that a further hearing would be possible at the Supreme Court. Fortunately, to date, the off-the-pitch issues haven’t impacted on the playing side. This is primarily because Lee Power was victorious in July and he’s shown himself as a competent and highly connected Director of Football, adding considerable value to the creation of a successful XI on a restricted budget. Should Power be deposed as Chairman does Mark Cooper stay and would that eventuality spell the end of a potentially successful partnership and season?

Supporters must also not believe that the boardroom outcomes will be limited to a range of known possibilities, ie the owner in December 2015 will be either Lee Power or Jed McCrory. Instead we must, unfortunately, entertain the possibility that the result of the ownership situation / boardroom makeup in a year’s time is completely unexpected. Speculation on this possibility is therefore somewhat pointless, however there’s one known that can be there to ensure the interests of the club and its supporters are preserved and that’s the Swindon Town Supporters’ Trust. Join over 1,000 fellow supporters and become a member of TrustSTFC today for just £1 and help keep our club SAFE, ensure supporters have a voice and are organised to deal with any unknown unknown.

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