Lewis Faces The Press

Monday, 16 July 2001, 0:00
4 mins read
"The past 12 months has not beenan easy time for anyone associated with the Swans. I hope this uncertainty will now, finally, come to an end. My main aim is now to bring about stability at theClub in the form of forward investment.
Five days ago I purchased the Ninth Floor’s 99% stake in Swansea City. This resulted in me temporarily taking control and assuming Chairmanship of the Club. My role,however, is purely that of a temporary custodian, and is an interim step in the process of raising new funds for the continued development of the Football Club.
Until the sale of the Club was officially completed, it was impossible to get potential investors, with whom I have been in constant discussions for the past few months,to finally commit new investment. This is now possible because, by completing the sale on the terms agreed, loans of around £800,000 to Ninth Floor plc have been effectively ring-fenced, and are now repayable only after specific events. As a result, the Club is now in the position to offer itself effectively debt-free to new investors, and all monies forthcoming will now go directly into the Club, and not to repaying previous debts.
Funds are now in the process of being put in place to the extent that they will satisfy the Club’s auditors that the future of the Club is secure for the next 12 months. These funds are based on the commitment of a number of investors who, as of yet, do not wish to be named. One of these, the single largest investor, will want to introduce himself at a later date. He is originally from Swansea, and now in business overseas. The other potential investors are all living in South Wales. TheClub is, therefore, being effectively returned to Welsh ownership.
Our job is now to secure the Club’s future beyond the next 12 months. Over the weekend I have had contact with another three potential investors and, as I speak, a group of distinguished Swansea business people has thrown it’s weight behind the club and set themselves the task of identifying and securing new investment for the Club. Never has there been a better time or circumstances for investors to joinus and help propel the Swans to our rightful position in a higher league.
Our aim is to secure £1.4m and cover the entire share value of the Club, withinthe next three months. We see no reason why this cannot be achieved.
In the meantime, in fairness to potential investors, expenditure will be maintained at levels stated in the prospectus they have received. This neccesitates all areas of the Club working to very tight budgets. This is in parallel with the former owner’s forecast for the Club’s status and at a shareholders meeting on August 1st we expect to give them comfort in terms of the Club’s ability to move forward both on and off the pitch.
The fans of the Swans must be one of our most critical considerations. The strong loyalty factor that exists at the Vetch is acknowledgedby all of us who now sit aroundthe Boardroom table. The restructuring of the Club will be carried out with them firmly in mind and, to this end, a top priority for us is the appointment of a Swansea City Board Director from the emerging Supporters Trust. This will not only be a major step forward in opening the Club up to the fans, but will also have the added advantage of uniting the fans in one body. We believe this will give the fans a real chance to have financial and emotional ownership of the Club, and to have proper recognition and representation on the Club’s ongoing development. The appointment of a Supporters Trust Director, as at other clubs where such schemes have successfully operated, would need to be rooted in a share holding that sees the Supporters Trust, as a body, invest financially in theClub’s future as with any other investor. I wish the Supporters Trust well in it’s development and look forward to their proposals as soon as they are at a stage and in a format to be discussed.
Talk of a "five-year plan", at thisstage, that sees the Swans return to the highest level of football would be considered by our supportersto be "pie in the sky". That’s why I believe in a brick by brick approach, and the first thing we have to do is secure a return to the Second Division and firmly establish ourselves at that level.
Until recent years, the commercial department here at Swansea was on it’s knees – it has been reborn and now raises over three quarters of a million pound for the Club a year.
We have been given an extended 2-year lease on our training facility at Jersey Marine. We have now entered into a partnership with our new sponsors Travel House – a travel company of national reputation that was built up from right here in Swansea.
And, to begin our season in style we have arranged a friendly here at the Vetch with the Jamaican Reggae Boyz on August 5th. A match that we all hope will see the Vetch packed to capacity.
The Club is now in renewed discussions with the local council over Morfa and we have made our position perfectly clear. We cannot compromise; the move to Morfa must happen and within a realistic and reasonable timescale. The future of Swansea City is playing at the new Morfa Stadium and anything the Club can do to speed up this process, we will do. Swansea RFC will, no doubt make their own statement, but I’m sure they feel the same way. Morfa is the future of sport in this City and is critical to the future success and development of the Swans.
What we have in Swansea is unique in football; a huge catchment area, a fanatical support base and a bank of latent support capable of producing crowds in excess of our present level, given the right enviroment and the move to Morfa.
The plain facts of the matter are these; we must deliver new investment in the next three months to secure the future of Swansea City forthe years to come, and John Hollins will need a squad that is strong enough to make an impact on the Third Division and elevate us, once again,to the Second Division. I am confident that, on all counts, we can deliverand I would ask all those with even the slightest interest in Swansea City Football Club to support us in these goals."
So that was the gospel according to ‘Saint’ Mike for Monday 16 July. How true it is remains to be seen but our insider provides a bit more than Mike was prepared to say. Click Here for what he has to say.

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