It’s fair to say we’ve been waiting a while for this and on Tuesday 4th April our new majority shareholders faced the fans at the Liberty Stadium. Before I go any further I just wanted to say I have more respect for both gentlemen for agreeing to do this when they must have known they would be in for a rough ride. Especially when others who are still at the club have not yet done so.
Anyway what did we find out? There were a few questions that weren’t really answered properly. For example I asked one about where will the money come from for stadium and expansion and can we not take it from the playing budget as we’ve done that for other things and its hurts us on the pitch. Steve and Jason did say they didn’t want to take it from the playing budget but didn’t really go much further beyond saying how it was vital that we do it to maximise revenue (in a much more drawn out way than that) I was hoping there would be more substance to the answer. The other thing they said was getting the lease on the stadium is the important thing before that can be dealt with.
There were one or two strange moments as well – Jason said we have no intention of going down and about half the room clapped. I really have no idea why everyone clapped, our owner saying he has no intention of us going down is obvious isn’t it? I’m sure not even Tony Petty wanted us to go down when he was the chairman. It’s common sense, it’s not news. If he said something different to that then it would be news!
Right now I’ve got that off my chest I’ll continue. 1st question was about structures to improve recruitment. Jason admitted recruitment has not been so good recently but said he thought January was positive. He said both he and Steve were heavily involved in January. Steve likes to ask a lot of questions to scouts and look at how other successful organisations work. Steve also added football can learn a lot from analytics when it comes to transfers.
Next question was in short for them to lay their business plan on the table – Jason said his intentions are pure and he understands he’s a custodian of the club. It will take hard work to improve and that he isn’t here for only a year. Says he wants club to be sustainable, says club has great potential on the commercial side.
Up next was one on who hired Bob Bradley – Jason took responsibility for that decision, added that our plight wasn’t all down to him and that we were struggling before he took over. Said he believed in doing things correctly but also being decisive (interpret that as you wish, mine is that making right decision and doing it swiftly is very important)
One about allowing trust to have 25% – Jason wasn’t sure of significance of that percentage but did say the relationship with the trust has improved and they will sit down at end of season to discuss a number of things.
Who contributed to purchase of shares? – Steve contributed most, then Jason, then Robbie and Bobby (surnames escape me) the other were described as private people who made small investments. We could meet them if we go to Steve’s in Santa Monica where he has a party for every game he doesn’t attend (this did draw the only laugh of the night)
Question about loan for players in January – Steve said Premier League TV deal comes in three instalments, we borrowed money against an installment that was due imminently so it was very short term.
Question about what happens if we go down – Jason says priority to come back up and would focus on best way to do that.
Next part involved a few exchanges between crowd and Americans after Jason praised leadership of previous regime. Crowd unhappy at the way previous regime had behaved. Jason said he would do things differently if had time again, said would have liked to have spoken to trust earlier and once he did it was mentioned about buying trusts shares but went no further. Then the big revelation – he said he wasn’t aware of a shareholders’ agreement from previous regime.
Next part was about clean break from shareholders and I asked was Huw Jenkins staying long term? Steve said he thinks everyone can work together and as far as he’s concerned Huw Jenkins is here long term.
Penultimate one was where do Steve and Jason plan to make their money back from? They said no imminent plans to take a dividend and plan is to grow club on the pitch.
Final one was did the Swansea way attract them to the club? Steve said it did, and believes Paul Clement wants to play that way. Jason ends by saying he’s enjoyed the evening and that he welcomes all questions and that he wants us to be united.
So here are my thoughts. I think both men are clearly successful businessmen and are passionate about the club and their hearts appear to be in the right place. However there wasn’t really a great deal of substance to what was said. I do accept that things like stadium purchase are long and drawn out so you can’t be too hasty judging on things like that but there were a few answers that said a lot about what they wanted to do but not a lot on how they were going to do it. The previous shareholders also didn’t look good again, didn’t inform Jason and Steve about shareholders agreement? That’s a bit of a bombshell if true!
I will agree with what Phil Sumbler said though at the end. We need to try and put a lot of it to the back of our minds for the next eight games as we try to stay in the Premier League. Once that’s hopefully been achieved it will be time to have a deeper discussion about the future of this club.