McClure’s Fears

Friday, 13 July 2001, 0:00
2 mins read

Ninth Floor plc, the London-based company of which McClure is chief executive and joint chairman, disposed of its 99.15 pc shareholding to Swansea’s current managing director Mike Lewis.

In return, 60-year-old Lewis paid Ninth Floor £1 plus an agreement to repay loans totalling £801,098.

If Lewis sells his shareholding within the next two years he will have to pay 20pc of any profit to Ninth Floor.

The Swansea managing director said his role as chairman is only temporary and that he will be looking to bring new investors on to the Swansea board.

Ninth Floor also pumped a final payment of £200,000 into the club which will give Lewis time to find new investors.

But last night McClure warned prospective owners that the club could only fulfil its potential if it leaves the antiquated Vetch Field.

"I wish Swansea luck, but the future of the club depends on a new stadium. That is so important. It would help to bring in the new investment Swansea City needs," he said.

"If you have a stadium which is comfortable and easy for access then you will be able to attract investors. I don’t think Swansea City has a future without the new ground.

"The Vetch isn’t a nice environment. It’s not a place I’d be happy to take my wife and kids. If you go to the cinema you don’t expect to sit in a fleapit and the same goes for football matches."

McClure had hoped the Swans – along with Swansea RFC – would now be playing at the 25,000-capacity Morfa Stadium but, despite planning permission being granted, the £75m council-backed project is still a long way off.

"People in Swansea must ask themselves why they have a council that can’t deliver on its promises. If it had leadership and vision we would be in the Morfa by now," said McClure.

"We were supposed to be playing in the new stadium by 2000, then it became 2001. I’m not sure when Swansea will go there but, hopefully, the year will start with a two.

"I feel we did a lot of positive things at Swansea but if we made one mistake it was pursuing the Morfa option with the council.

"Had we done something with a commercial developer the club would have had a new ground by now.

"The issue of the new stadium is a fundamental one and it must be solved, but it’s no longer my problem. For me, Swansea is in the past. It’s history."

Ninth Floor bought Swansea City in August 1997, paying £100 for shares and £500,000 for various loans.

The Swans won promotion to the Second Division in May 2000, but the 2000-01 season was a disaster with the team being relegated straight back to the Third Division.

After it was revealed he was an Arsenal season ticket-holder and that he supported Norwich City, coupled with the fact he was rarely seen at any of Swansea’s matches, McClure became a vilified figure at the Vetch.

With the club losing a reputed £25,000 a week and having seen its share price plunge from 22 to six pence, Ninth Floor put the club up for sale four months ago.

Despite several parties being linked with a buy-out, McClure received only one formal offer – from Lewis.

"We were anxious to get out as cleanly and quickly as we could, so getting rid of the club is a relief in that sense," admitted McClure. "We just couldn’t hold on to it any longer.

"There were a few people interested in buying the club and there was a lot of talk.

"But we wanted to be out before the start of the new season and Mike Lewis’s offer was the only one that allowed us to do that."

© Trinity Mirror Digital Media 2001

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