Swansea City have given me an immense amount of pride over the last few years. When your club does well it inevitably makes you feel proud but it was about so much more than success on the pitch.
We were the envy of so many clubs. In a world where so many clubs have overseas owners with little to no affiliation with the club and held up as a symbol of status, a plaything for someone with more money than sense or a cash cow for someone to make easy money.
We were one of the very few clubs not to fall into that bracket and the only one anywhere near the top level of English football. We had local ownership with the exception of a few overseas shareholders and fan involvement on the board in the form of the supporters trust. Nearly every fan I would speak to admired our model and wanted it at their club, even Richard Scudamore the Premier League chief executive called it “ideal”.
I feared the day that the majority of shareholders decided to cash in that this would prove to be the end of Swansea City as we know today. And with today’s news I think that fear has been realised.
The warning signs were there in the summer with the lack of investment in the playing squad when it was obvious that it need a significant improvement. Huw Jenkins came out said we made a loss last year to try and appease the fans who were unhappy about our lack of spending. It wasn’t something I bought, when the new TV deal came into play there should have been more money coming into our coffers than in our entire history. I’m not saying we don’t have outgoings but when an extra £40 million will come in throughout the season then I’m sure you can afford to come out of the transfer market having spent money rather than turn a profit.
Francesco Guidolin was not the right man for the job. I believed that from day one, however the man still deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and we have displayed a total lack of class throughout this saga. The decision to sack him was obviously made a few weeks ago given the way we have openly had discussions with other managers. Plus sacking him after six games highlights just how incompetent we are, and how appointing him was a mistake. It was obvious we would struggle when you look at the fixtures we’ve had so far plus the fact the squad is worse than last year as explained above.
The board will turn around and say that last December we didn’t have anyone lined up when Garry Monk was sacked which is true and it’s fair to say we made a mess of that as well but Guidolin should not have been subjected to this appalling treatment. This is not what we’ve been about over the last dozen or so years. We were always better than that, other clubs would do it but not us.
Now I move onto Bob Bradley our new manager. Nothing personal against him but the standard he’s managed at over the course of his career doesn’t come up to anywhere near the standard of the Premier League if you take out his stint managing the USA at the 2010 World Cup. The French 2nd division, Norwegian league and the MLS are a big step down from this level.
It’s hardly a coincidence that we have American owners and now and American has now been given the top job on the footballing side of the club. All this does is give me further belief that the sole aim of the Americans is to market our club in America to satisfy their own ends.
We are yet to see anything positive from their involvement in the club. They talked about money to improve the team and trying to get the stadium expansion of the ground but talk is cheap and that’s all we’ve had so far. Actions have always spoken louder than words and today’s action tells us exactly who is now calling the shots in the boardroom. In selling a 67% controlling stake to Steve Kaplan and Jason Levein, Huw Jenkins has effectively given them the keys to the Liberty Stadium.
The Supporters Trust have released a statement saying they were not consulted over the decision to change the manager which is extremely disappointing. Previously Huw Cooze the supporter director would have been involved in discussions to remove and replace managers but that now appears to have changed. Makes a mockery of Levein and Kaplan’s alleged to desire to work with the trust.
I personally don’t believe Huw would have been keen appointed Bob Bradley, he’s never been in our thoughts before so why would he be now? The difference is now he’s just an employee with a very small percentage of shares. If Levein and Kaplan want to make a change they have two thirds of the shares so no one can really stop them. This is why the Supporters Trust wanted to get to 25% shareholding. It would mean they had more power to stop certain things. But unfortunately the other shareholders were unwilling to sell a small percentage to them, probably because it would dilute the value of their shares.
The club has become very closed shop over the past few months, easy and safe questions are being asked in the press with answers being given that don’t tell us a lot and certainly not the things we want to know. There would usually be a fans forum at this time of year, one hasn’t taken place yet and it is my understanding that there will be one in the not too distant future.
We need this as soon as possible, certain people at the club need to help us understand what is going on because this is a very worrying time for all of us. Michael Laudrup got sacked a few years ago for “eroding our principles” but it now feels as if they have been eroded completely.
The days of us being the envy of other clubs are gone, we are becoming any other club and at the moment we are worse than most. The phrase “In Huw We Trust” is no longer valid. We appear to have lost what made us special and I doubt we can get it back which is very sad.