Football Shorts: Swansea City’s Coincidental Decline

by | Oct 31, 2016

We’re only ten matches into the Premier League season, but already things are starting to look bleak for Swansea City. In last night’s Premier League match at Stoke City, the Swans were comfortably beaten by a team which had a slow start of its own but now seems to be moving up through the gears towards – at the very least – safety for another season. With more than a quarter of the season played, Swansea have just five points, a tally which desperately needs to improve if the club is to see its Premier League status run beyond the six years that it will have completed come the end of this season.

Swansea have already played one roll of the dice, replacing Francesco Guidoli with the former USA national team coach Bob Bradley earlier this month. Thus far, Bradley has been unable to achieve so much as a dead cat bounce. He is still awaiting his first win as the club’s manager, and there doesn’t seem to have been a considerable improvement since his arrival from a team whose shortcomings have, perhaps, been somewhat eclipsed by the even more spectacular implosion going on just below them in the Premier League table at Sunderland.

If things aren’t going to well on the pitch for Swansea City, then the harmonious relations of the recent years between the club and its supporters may also be under threat. The club’s supporters trust, which owns a 21% shareholding it, has recently strongly criticised former shareholders for making millions of pounds by selling to US investors Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, who the trust claims have been sidelining them through failing to circulate in advance proposed changes to the club’s articles of association.

Former shareholders are understood to have made around £75m from their sale of the shares in the club. The trust has accused them – including chairman Huw Richards – of  acting “purely from a position of self-interest with little regard for the future of the football club”. It all feels like something of a waste. For several years, Swansea City were hailed as a club to aspire to, where the supporters’ representatives had a meaningful say in the running of the club and its future direction. With all other shareholders having sold up, the trust’s remaining 21% shareholding carries no substantial influence on votes and still less guarantees for the future.

But what have these investors been promised? What happens in the event that the club’s stay in the Premier League comes to an abrupt halt at the end of this season? Maybe those that sold their shares in the club sleep very comfortably at night on the piles of money that they made from this sale. Maybe they don’t. There’s one thing that we can say with a degree of certainty, which is that it would be strikingly ironic if Swansea City were to lose their much-coveted Premier League place at the end of their first season after giving uptheir unqiue ownership structure to follow a well-worn path of overseas investment. Over to you, Mr Bradley.

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