Australian owned Swindon aiming to knock English giants out of the FA Cup
"We've had a very rough 29 years since being in the Premier League," says Swindon Town FC in Oz organiser Steve Hall, a lifelong Swindon fan.
Hall has had to endure his football club's prolonged and catastrophic demise in recent times.
But with an Australian businessman now turning around their fortunes, the Robins are gunning for a huge FA Cup shock against six-time champions Manchester City this weekend.
Premier League giants City and League Two's Swindon are separated by 67 ladder positions on the English Football League pyramid.
But the minnows are hopeful that they can cause an upset.
For Manchester City, the FA Cup is just another trophy they can add to their growing cabinet.
A final appearance is a minimum expectation for Pep Guardiola's side.
But for Swindon and its supporters, they've been waiting more than ten years to reach the third round of football's oldest national cup competition.
Front Page Football caught up with Hall in an exclusive interview recently.
The lifelong fan discussed the upcoming clash, the obstacles the fans have encountered in recent years, and how new Australian owner Clem Morfuni has revitalised the club.
Swindon has faced numerous issues on and off the pitch with its owners, board, and other officials.
The club almost went bankrupt with no light at the end of the tunnel.
"There were many, many issues with the previous owners," Hall said.
"Off the pitch, before Clem took over, there were a lot of legal issues left from our previous owner Lee Power.
"Power wanted to sell the club for one pound to American syndicates to help him make even more money. There were a lot of dirty deals behind the scenes at the time."
Financial instability has always been a problem for Swindon.
"In the 1990s and 2000s, there was a lot of off-field issues, particularly from a financial perspective," Hall added.
"For example, we got promoted to the Premier League in 1993, and most teams that get promoted to the top tier go out and buy new players, but we lost our best players.
"The owners cashed in and didn't want to buy any new players. So we were relegated from the Premier League straight away and subsequently ended up getting relegated again in the following season."
The club was on the verge of being sold for only one pound at one stage before Australian businessman Morfuni took full ownership on July 21, 2021.
The fans have been incredibly pleased with Morfuni's upbeat and honest rapport with the community, club, and its supporters from that day on.
"I can't recall another owner in my lifetime who has been more transparent and more proactive than Clem," Hall said.
"He's using his business experience to change us into a modern club. He has bought in professional sports scientists, transformed players' diets, [and] bought in creditors to help us relieve our debt.
"He's turned the club around and made it completely professional. To an extent, he has made Swindon look more professional than most clubs in League One and League Two.
"He even took the administrators and those in hospitality to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to show them how it was possible to run a matchday successfully.
"He's even transformed the catering. He has changed everything at the club since he has arrived."
Swindon has a rich history in knockout cup competitions.
But the club has struggled to go any further than the second round in recent years.
"For many years, we have been doing shit in the cups; we've never reached the third round of anything," Hall said.
"I remember when I was young, it was expected for Swindon to have a good chance against higher opposition in the cup. We even beat West Ham when they had Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore in their team.
"We've beaten sides such as Burnley, Arsenal, and Liverpool decades ago, so the history is strong. Sadly that history has died, but hopefully, that will change this Saturday morning."
It is undoubtedly the biggest cup match for Swindon over the past two decades.
It doesn't come any bigger than hosting the reigning English champions Manchester City.
Despite the striking differences, Hall remains upbeat for the tie.
"Let's face it, one of Man City's reserve players is worth more than the whole of our squad," he added.
"Realistically, it looks like we don't stand a chance, but I am always optimistic no matter who we play against, so I predict that we will win."
Hall wasn't wrong about the financial differences between the two clubs.
According to Transfermarkt, Swindon Town's entire squad is worth €3.9 million.
Manchester City's reserve goalkeeper Zach Steffen is worth €6 million to put that into perspective.
The gap between both sides is monumental.
Nonetheless, Swindon fans will be buoyant to see their side finally come out of the doldrums by competing in such a prestigious fixture.
The tie will take place on Saturday at 7am AEDT, live on 10Play.