I fear dark days lie ahead for Swindon Town FC. Paolo Di Canio has announced his resignation from the club. Twenty months after The Robins controversially welcomed him, he controversially leaves.
Now this is a history related web site, so I won’t take much time to talk about the current affairs. Promoted from League 2, Swindon are flying high in League 1, and in a little over 24 hours could even be top of the league. But that is only half the story. Lacking investment, the club was recently sold to a consortium to supposedly provide a firmer financial future. In the process of this takeover, a star player in Matt Ritchie was sold for a fraction of his value without Paolo’s involvement. At that point, Paolo announced his position was untenable, and so in some way it is a surprise it has taken him over two weeks to make such a move. But February 18th will now be etched in the memory of Swindon fans as Di Canio’s departure day.
So what? Well I blogged on Di Canio’s arrival over a year ago, and the similarly controversial circumstances surrounding that event. Di Canio’s fascist beliefs made some feel his appointment was inappropriate. Parallels could be drawn between Di Canio’s Swindon following and those of dictators from history. Indeed, since I wrote that, I’ve attended a handful of games and the fans passion for Paolo is quite something (for instance, “Who needs Mourinho- we’ve got Di Canio!”) The way in which a town has united behind his team, with attendances increasing as well as the media following, has been quite fascinating. Classic moments such as his accidental half-marathon & one priceless quote after another has made it an eventful season or two!
But what now? Sadly, one can only see negatives now for Swindon. A new board that will be despised. A future new manager who has an unenviable task of trying to maintain a promotion push whilst keeping the fans onside. As a town, Swindon is struggling with increasing unemployment, and now we see another big blow to the community. You may think I’m overplaying this, it is football after all, but such is the following that Di Canio has gathered. Often, when an individual, a leader, with such a following as Paolo, departs (more often than not by being killed though!) it often causes a downward spiral for its subjects.For Swindon Town FC, even if they do maintain a promotion push this year, I still feel the next month at least, will be dark days indeed.
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