English club Swindon Town officially have a new owner after Australian plumbing magnate Clem Morfuni completed an ambitious takeover this week.
Morfuni founded his plumbing business Axis Services Group in 1994 with the company now operating around the world and turning over $200 million each year.
Having previously had a minority stake in Swindon, the Aussie has opted to go all in as he looks to turn the struggling League Two club around.
Founded in 1879, Swindon’s crowning achievement to date came in 1969 when they won the League Cup, but they were relegated from England’s third division last season and have been desperately short on financial backing.
Morfuni is determined to reignite the club however and is ready to put his money on the line as he pursues his passion.
“Many people have questioned why a successful plumber who runs, owns business that turns over $200m a year globally and lives on the other side of the world wants to own an English League Two club,” Morfuni wrote in a Swindon Town club statement.
“The first reason is: I am the biggest football fan in the world. I play 11 side 2 times a week (very badly I might add). I set my alarm to wake me up in the middle of the night to watch Premier League games; when in England, I organise my meetings and my work schedule to try and see as many games as I can. I don’t know why, but I’m football mad.
“The second reason is I am now a complete Swindon Town fan. I have as many friends in Swindon as I do in Sydney.
“I got introduced to the club by Zavier Austin seven years ago. I became a shareholder and since then I have grown to love the club and the supporters of it and fully understand how important the club is to them. I want to give the supporters a club they deserve.
“I want to make some promises to you the fans: I will not take any money out of this club, I don’t need to.
“I will invest my money and my time; I will be over as often as I can (or as much as my family will let me); I don’t want to be an aloof owner on the other side of the world; I want to go on this journey with you, I want to be in the town end with you.
“My aim isn’t to use the club as a vehicle to pay for my lifestyle. I will provide full transparency of the financial position of the club at all times.”
The Robins currently boast an Australian player in the form of Jordan Lyden, while Socceroo Massimo Luongo spent over two years with the club when he was breaking through in England.
Morfuni admits the club are facing a stern test moving forward but is hopeful of getting Swindon back to the Championship and developing a successful academy.
“I also want to make it clear that I am fully aware of how difficult the situation that I am inheriting is,” Morfuni continued.
“We have a great fan base which is the most important thing and also is what gives us a chance but, other than that, we have hardly anything to start with.
“My minimum aims are: to build a sustainable Championship club; to own the 50/50 County ground with the fans; to very significantly improve and fully modernise the County Ground; to find and fully develop our own training ground; to have the best academy outside of the Premier League; to have a young first team with high quality players that have come through the academy; to have a fan base that is growing and where as many as possible of the children in the town and surrounding communities are Swindon fans and their heroes are Swindon players.
“I know that is a million miles away from where we are now and it’s going to take a great deal of work, resources, vision and effort but if we pull together, indeed if we stick together, we can and we will do it.”
Swindon Town will begin the new League Two season against Scunthorpe United on August 7.