ANDREW Black told the Swindon Town board he was looking for a way out of the club as early as last summer.

The Robins’ majority shareholder has put a large slice of his stake in Town up for sale, with seven parties believed to be interested in the possibility of taking over at the County Ground.

Black is understood to have negotiated terms with a proposed new investor in July and August, only for the takeover to fall through, before the 49-year-old agreed to bankroll another season.

Now, however, the Betfair founder has decided it is the time to hand over the reins at SN1, notions chief executive Nick Watkins confirmed had been mentioned last year.

“Fundamentally, what we’re faced with is, for the last 18 months or so, Andrew Black, who was one of the original members of the triumvirate who acquired the controlling interest in the club five years ago this month, has become the 98 per cent shareholder in the club and he is the key investor in the club,” he said.

“Those are positions that he neither set out to achieve or would wish to continue. He is by his own admission not a massive Swindon Town fan and he seldom comes to the club. It’s his money and he must decide what he wants to do with it and it’s only right and proper that he does.

“I know that he’s got lots of other interest in a range of different areas. He informed the board last year that he would be keen to find a co-investor and that investor was identified by one of his associates and he spent quite some time pursuing that opportunity.

“In the end it didn’t happen and it fell away so Andrew Black remained the key investor and signed up to the project for the year and the strategy for the year, which was to create a squad capable of getting back to back promotions.

“Upon reflection, he now has made it clear he would like to exit and he would like to be relieved of the funding burden and responsibility and he has asked the board that they actively, and with a degree of alacrity, seek new investors for the club and to limit the further funding demands that are placed upon himself.

“That is the strategy that we are now actively pursuing and we are in dialogue with at least four consortiums, all of whom are expressing a keen interest in the possibility.”