In our most recent fanzine which was released on 9th April, we published an interview with Supporters Trust chairman Dave Dalton, but it was so long we couldn’t publish it in full. Therefore it was agreed that we would publish it in full on our website in two parts. Here’s part one.
Congratulations on being appointed as the new chairman of the Supporters Trust. What made you go for that role and how challenging do you think it will be?
Thanks Steve. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t even contemplating the role of Trust Chair coming up for a good while. Andy (Godden) took over as Chair last season and I put myself forward as VC to work alongside him for a few years to try and get a better understanding of what a board officer role entailed.
When Andy decided not to apply for re-election in July then I felt I should put myself forward to try and support what is probably our least experienced board since the Trust was founded over 20 years ago. I am in no doubt it will be challenging if the first few weeks are anything to go by but I have some excellent board members to call upon so will give it my best shot!
Tell us about your background in terms of following the club and getting involved with the trust.
I began supporting the club in 1977 when my friend’s dad took me and his son down onto North Bank of the Vetch when I was 14. As I had grown up in the wilds of Ceredigion I hadn’t seen, heard (or smelt!) anything like it before and I was hooked! I had just lost my dad to cancer and it became my “happy place” during a difficult time. I don’t think we missed a home game for about 5 years and we were fortunate to see that amazing rise to the old 1st Division under John Toshack.
My initial involvement with the Trust was less enchanting and began about 4 years ago when I applied for a vacant co-opted position as I wanted to see if I could help improve the communication channels between the Trust and the Jack Army. Two years later I was voted on as a full board member.
What is the trust’s relationship like with the majority shareholders and chairman Julian Winter?
Very good to be fair. Both Julian and Beccy (Edwards-Symmons) have ensured that myself and Terry Sinnett, our new Supporter Director, have been kept updated on a variety of issues since the start of the season especially with crowds at long last returning to stadiums etc. Likewise, we would like to think we have been able to provide them with useful feedback too that recognises the needs and concerns of our supporters. The new Trust Officers were also given an opportunity to meet Jake Silverstein when he came over to our first two home games of the season and again it was useful for both parties to discuss a number of ideas for the season ahead.
What are the current trust membership levels, how do they compare to recent seasons and how do you think you can increase the numbers?
Overall, they have been as high as they have for many years at just under 1900 at the end of July. We have recently opened up memberships for the new season and we have been really pleased with the uptake. This season we are looking at increasing our numbers still further with a focus on more women and junior members joining throughout the season. We will also be continuing with our monthly prize draws plus some other initiatives to encourage supporters of the merits of becoming a Swans Trust member.
Last summer was one of upheaval at the club with the change of manager, were the trust involved and kept up to date with what was going? Changing manager just a few days before the season started wasn’t ideal preparation.
Much of the managerial/coaching changes with Steve leaving and Martin coming in took place before Terry and I took over in our new roles but I can say that since then we have been kept abreast of many of the important developments and announcements that the club have made, especially those that directly involve our supporters. We want to continue building on that if we can as I believe it is exactly the sort of work the Trust and the club should be pulling together on.
Finances have undoubtedly been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, plus our parachute payments have come to an end. Have the club managed this situation well?
I think considering the circumstances the club are doing all they can to stabilise the situation. It is undoubtedly a very difficult balancing act but from what I have seen so far and who I’ve spoken to in the club since becoming Chair there is a genuine desire to get the club back on a manageable financial footing after a number of years when we possibly lost focus on the importance of that. We have already experienced some dark days on that front but I firmly believe we have learnt valuable lessons to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
Now that crowds have returned is there a possibility of events like open days and fans forums returning to their normal formats?
Absolutely. It is something that we as a Trust see as being hugely important to our supporters. We are also looking at other events that we can safely host and will provide our supporters with more news on these over the coming season.
I’ve been banging the drum that Alan Curtis deserves a statue for his tremendous service to Swansea City. Would the trust be willing to front a campaign for one? It would provide a nice distraction from the legal case!
Good question Steve! You and I have talked about this (and similar initiatives) over the past 18 months or so and it is definitely something I’d like us and the club to explore in more depth. Keep reminding me, OK?
Part 2 will follow, which will focus solely on the recent settlement between the trust and the current and former sharfeholders.