Our Previous Shareholders

It has been said many times that the film “Jack to a King” was merely a marketing ploy to prepare the ground for the sale of Swansea City.  This becomes particularly obvious when you consider the way that certain people were represented in the film and the way that others of equal or greater importance were cynically airbrushed from history as if they did not matter.

From the mythical re-mortgaging of a house to a magical cashpoint, the film stretched the truth in so many ways to enhance the role of some individuals.  This was a shame really, because the story of the rise of Swansea City was incredible enough without any embellishment.  However, I guess it did not work as well as the marketing tool that the producers had been asked to create.

The film did though have the desired effect.  As we have outlined previously, Swansea City was sold behind the backs of the fans and with no thought for the future safety of the club.  We all remember the oft-repeated “by the fans, for the fans” mantra that was enjoyed and trotted out so long and so often by those who are now reaping the financial benefits of deceiving their “fellow” Swansea City fans.

More than that though, it isn’t just the financial rewards from selling their shares that these people are still enjoying.  You only have to look at the club’s accounts and ask yourself where the money has gone over the years to realise that outside business interests have also benefited.  That may be through the rental of private properties, hotel rooms, vending machines, building businesses, travel packages, the list goes on.  It really has been a case of “having your cake and eating it” for these guys (not that there was ever a bakery involved, at least as far as we know).

If that wasn’t bad enough, we now also have some of them (or their very close families) spending their time goading angry Swans fans on Twitter.  Whether that is through constantly telling people about their seemingly endless supply of match tickets (who really needs to post their match tickets on social media?) or through just basic arguing.  Simply saying “views are my own” does not wash when you still style yourself as being a part of Swansea City.

These same people still enjoy the benefits of being in the directors’ box on match days.  They enjoy the food and hospitality behind the scenes while the fans watch the devastation on the pitch and feel the anger and despair in the stands caused by the actions of those who sold the club.  These people are rubbing our noses in the fact that they have sold Swansea City to the hedge fund wolves.

As with the chairman, the only way that fans will ever unite fully behind this club again will be when these people are removed.  That isn’t something we say lightly as we recognise the work that they did in 2001 when the club was on its knees.  Sadly, that work and the goodwill it rightly created has been more than undone by the sale and their actions since.

That is such a shame, because it didn’t have to be this way. Selling the club out from underneath the supporters when one of those doing the selling was so instrumental in setting up the Supporters’ Trust is unforgivable.  Yet that person is retained by the current owners as a consultant despite them admitting that the commercial arm of the club has vastly underperformed over the years.

Then we have all aspects of social media.  The tweets of former shareholders and their families are extremely damaging to Swansea City.  There is absolutely no need for these people to be as proactive on social media in an environment where feelings run so high.  It will only ever cause friction, and this is often seen to be the case.   They should be given a simple choice – your Twitter following or the good of the football club.  One or the other.

The SCSA calls for the immediate removal of all former shareholders of Swansea City and we ask the football club to be transparent and open in any dealings with current or previous shareholders.  No business transactions should take place with these people as it will only serve to heighten ill feeling.  It is not in the best short or long-term interests of Swansea City for these relationships to be in place if our club is to be united once more.

We call on Swansea City to remove any and all privileges from former shareholders.  The money they put into the football club, whether that was in 2001 or later, as it certainly was in some cases, should not be seen as the investment they tried to portray it as in the film, but merely a group of fans doing what they said they were doing at the time.  Helping to save Swansea City.  If that is why they did what they did in the first place, as they claimed, then surely paying for match day tickets (with the appropriate membership where applicable) should not be seen as a hardship?

We suggest that any preferential treatment for anyone arranging travel packages should stop this season.  We understand that the appropriate Jack Army memberships are in place but as these are non-transferable (as per the terms and conditions) do we also need to assume that it is the same people that travel to all the games for which trips are arranged?    The suspicion that it isn’t is something else that isn’t helping the club’s reputation at this time.

We are sure that the majority owners (all 27 of them) want Swansea City to be united.  Removing the privileges and special treatment we have outlined here, whether they be business concerns or simply social media postings, will move us one stage closer to that goal.

These former shareholders will understand it because they understood it when Tony Petty was here so they are on our wavelength, surely?  I wonder how they would feel if they were in our position now, on the outside looking in while our club is being run inexorably into the ground by greed and incompetence.

The SCSA therefore asks the majority shareholders to remove the privileges, the business interests and use of social media (while those involved are still linked to Swansea City) of the former shareholders who contrived and plotted to sell the club behind the backs of their former friends and fellow supporters.  We want our club back.

#backtojack

Huw Jenkins

So why are the short term aims of the SCSA as stated?

We have been asked to detail why we have three short term aims which are reproduced below as a reminder.

  • Work hard to increase knowledge among the wider fanbase of Swansea City about the actions of the former shareholders in the sale of the club.  We will achieve this by making efforts to publicise information that is already in the public domain but has been largely ignored by both the local and national media.
  • We will call for the shareholders who sold the club from under the supporters and the privileges currently afforded to them to be removed.  This should include boardroom access as well as preferential treatment in ticketing and stadium matters.
  • We will urge the Supporters’ Trust to return to its membership for another vote on the proposal not to take legal action in favour of a partial sale of the Trust’s shares.  We are not saying at this point that the original vote should be ignored.  However, we feel that recent developments have led to the need for the Trust to consult its members on this issue again, quickly.

It is also worth noting that we believe the position of club chairman Huw Jenkins to be untenable as a direct result of the above three situations and we will now lay out in more detail why we think this is the case.

1.  Selling the club behind the back of the supporters.  

We should never lose sight of the fact that the decision to sell the club behind the backs of the supporters was not a decision taken only by the chairman, but one taken by all the shareholders, acting together.

There is no doubt that they were frustrated and angered by the presence of the Trust in a previous potential deal with Charles Noell and John Moores.  However, that does not justify completely bypassing the organisation that was formed to ensure that the longer term interests of Swansea City were protected.

Huw Jenkins was present in 2002 when the club returned to local ownership following the Tony Petty era.  He should have been acutely aware from his involvement at that time that and the actions taken how much Swansea City means to its fans.  That makes his decision to sell without the full involvement of the Supporters’ Trust crass at best and ultimately unforgivable.

Indeed, this quote from Huw Jenkins in April 2012 should be remembered at all times “The hard times of the past mean we fully appreciate what we have today, we have ambition, but we grow the club within its income, encourage managers, and work hard. We and the supporters trust have respect for each other. It is mad for the football authorities not to encourage supporter ownership more – the game is about supporters.”

Also, consider the comments Huw Jenkins made in his programme notes in February 2015 following the failed sale to Moores and Noell: “I’m positive that any movement away from the current set-up will only be put in place if everyone connected to our club is convinced it’s a good thing for the football club first and foremost. If not, and this is my opinion, I can see the status quo continuing for some years to come.”

2. Continued poor performance on the pitch.  

Swansea City has regressed dramatically on the field in recent years.  From the moment we lifted the Capital One Cup in 2013 and competed in Europe the deterioration has been rapid and continued.

There is little doubt that the appointments Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup were inspired and driven by a clear vision for the club.   The appointment of Garry Monk was also meant to be along those lines but since then you have to question the logic behind the appointments of Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley and now Paul Clement given the team’s current position.

Add to that the endless poor transfer purchases coupled with players apparently being imposed on managers and you have decisions that have cost people employment.   However, increased salaries and bonuses have resulted while our league position speaks for itself.  After close brushes with relegation in the past two seasons, we now face a third and possibly final battle against the drop.

The SCSA completely agrees that the club needs to work within its means but how many top quality signings can you mention since Michael Laudrup’s transfer purchases that have set the world alight?

3.  Bypassing of duties as the chairman of a multi million pound organisation

The court case that we all read about this week was depressing to say the least. Steve Penny and Don Keefe worked for this club for many years and for a large part of that time they did so without any reward.   They were present at almost every game and devoted their time to the cause that was Swansea City.

As the club grew the rewards were given because of the extra hours needed but these guys were tossed to one side the moment the sale was completed.  As we have seen in court this week, fictitious minutes of non-existent meetings were created with the chairman admitting that he signs documents without fully checking them.   That is an unacceptable practice that should not be allowed to pass without comment.  Indeed his comment about not taking much notice of “the intricacies” he was signing in his role should set off huge  alarm bells given his position and the other documents he is asked to sign on a regular basis.

We at the Swansea City Supporters’ Alliance believe that while Huw Jenkins remains at the helm of Swansea City, the supporter base will never be completely united.

While we understand the reasoning behind the Americans wanting to utilise Huw Jenkins’s previous strong track record, the last four years of poor decisions and ill feeling cannot be ignored any longer.  We implore the majority owners of Swansea City to consider removing the chairman to allow us to take the first step towards getting our club back again.

 

SWANSEA CITY SUPPORTERS’ ALLIANCE 

The purpose of the Swansea City Supporters’ Alliance (SCSA) is simple – to represent the supporters’ aims, views, concerns and wishes and to ensure that it is vocal in supporting and pursuing these aims at all times.

The SCSA will not operate a closed shop.  It will need and seek input and support from fans of all ages, backgrounds and views as the SCSA looks to pursue the aim of bringing Swansea City Football Club back to its fans, a position we are nowhere near at the moment.

The sale of Swansea City to an American consortium in 2016 has left us with several challenges that need to be overcome.  These include but are not necessarily limited to:

  • The position of the former shareholders.  We should never forget that these people CHOSE to sell the club behind the backs of the supporters.  They did this despite the supporters holding a significant shareholding in Swansea City.
  • The continued presence of these shareholders at Swansea City.  The depth of feeling against the continued presence of these people is strong.  The fact that some of them contimue to goad Swansea City fans on social media, continue to run Swans-related businesses and still receive preferential treatment simply serves to strengthen the feeling of anger among supporters.
  • The supporters’ shareholding, presence and voice have been devalued.  The passing of majority voting rights and the inability to cash in on the value in compensation has weakened the position of the Supporters’ Trust, an organisation that we were all once so proud of.

To try and overcome these challenges the immediate aims of the SCSA are to:

  • Work hard to increase knowledge among the wider fanbase of Swansea City about the actions of the former shareholders in the sale of the club.  We will achieve this by making efforts to publicise information that is already in the public domain but has been largely ignored by both the local and national media.
  • We will call for the shareholders who sold the club from under the supporters and the privileges currently afforded to them to be removed.  This should include boardroom access as well as preferential treatment in ticketing and stadium matters.
  • We will urge the Supporters’ Trust to return to its membership for another vote on the proposal not to take legal action in favour of a partial sale of the Trust’s shares.  We are not saying at this point that the original vote should be ignored.  However, we feel that recent developments have led to the need for the Trust to consult its members on this issue again, quickly.

The SCSA is disappointed to note recent actions taken by Swansea City, including increased prices for the club’s vice presidents as well as a poor run of results on the pitch that have left us bottom of the Premier League.  The SCSA believes that these decisions and the current malaise on the pitch are a result of poor management decisions at board level preside over by the club’s chairman, Huw Jenkins.  Such decisions have become the subject of some very public scrutiny this week due to the ongoing court case involving former directors Steve Penney and Don Keefe. who are claiming damages against the football club  The SCSA believes that seeing the previous good name of Swansea City being publicly demeaned in this way makes the position of the current chairman untenable, especially when considered alongside the rapid and continued regression in the team over the last few years.

Until a short few years ago, Swansea City was a club that was almost universally admired for the way it was run off the field and the way it played the game on the field.  We want that back.  We want our club back.

If you are interested in finding out more about the SCSA or you would like to get involved in activities. please contact us at info@scsa.wales