Backing one rival team – and emulating another?

I read with interest that Swindon Town are ‘backing the bid’ and supporting Bristol’s attempts to host World Cup football in 2018.

I see it as great news for both parties. The West is often overlooked as a venue for major international football.

Granted, neither the County Ground or Ashton Gate has the capacity to host a senior England match, but there’s no reason why the latter couldn’t be involved in 2018, or redevelop to become more of a contender alongside the other new stadiums that will be trying to get involved.

Both Swindon and Bristol have hosted England U21 and Womens’ international matches before, and would love to have the big boys come to town.

If Bristol was chosen, Swindon would benefit from allowing teams to stay or train in the area, with the increase in publicity and tourism extremely beneficial.

It also raises the possibility of Swindon redeveloping the County Ground.

I’m not saying we’d be in a position to host a World Cup match – there’s more chance of Gordon Brown being invited to the Obamas' for tea – but any improvements made to the current stadium would help the club and the town itself.

Talk of the Reds improving the stadium or moving has been rife for the last decade, not uncoincidentally since Reading relocated in 1998.

However, with the club enduring years of financial instability (while the Royals enjoyed the patronage of John Madejski), the club has neither had the money or the support of the local council to relocate or improve.

Now, with the board running a frugal ship and building bridges that have been broken, the possibility has been raised once more.

Do we need a new ground? Does any club? With an average gate of 7,666 this season, some would argue an increased capacity would be fruitless.

However, as Reading, Swansea and Middlesbrough fans will testify, a new stadium can galvanise a club and a town.

At Elm Park the Royals spent years languishing in the lower leagues in front of paltry crowds before the idea of promotion saw them hit double figures.

Their subsequent rise to the top flight coincided with the move to the Madejski Stadium, albeit also with some sound investment on the field.

They’re now in the Championship, but last year they averaged over 19,000.

The sight of an improved stadium on Swindon’s current site – closer to the town centre than many new arenas – would be a huge boost to the local economy.

It would be one of the first things you see upon arriving in the town from the M4, while new and improved facilities would enable the club to capitalise on additional income on non-matchdays, something they’ve not been able to do in the past so easily.

More money coming in means more money to spend on the team, a more successful team means more bums on seats.

Maybe it’s not quite as easy as that, but with the current board in charge, I'd feel the club as a business would be in the right hands, and the town would finally boast a club, and stadium, worth shouting about.


I had a wry smile reading the matchday programme on the way home from the game on Saturday.

On the front cover was left-back Jean Francois Lescinel. The Frenchman had looked exhausted after a fine first half and endured a torrid second period until he was substituted, but it’s not the first time a player on the cover has had a bit of a ‘stinker’.

From broken legs to sendings off, injuries between print deadlines and kick-offs to own goals, choosing a player to stick on the front can be a hazardous task!

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