Leigh Dineen Interview

Wednesday, 29 January 2003, 0:01
7 mins read
  1. Whilst appreciating that committee members carry out their duties in their own spare time, there does seem a major problem with communication. It is a two way dialog. The Trust site should be used as a way of keeping the many fans informed of Trust developments. Not everyone has access to the EP. Although I have had 50% success rate with getting answers through the Trust Forum Q & A site, many questions are left unanswered without any recognition that they have been read. This leads to frustration and even leaves the Trust open to more criticism. The barriers must be broken, as already membership is in decline and the Trust could become non-existent. Are there plans to improve two way communication as many people can’t attend Trust Forums?

The communication problem has been a constant worry to us all and we really must find the right formula. We are not just an internet-based organisation, although of course it is the easiest and quickest way to correspond. The website needs to be updated more regularly, however we do use all media outlets available. This includes the Evening Post, who give us our own column every other week, it includes a page in the Programme and a quarterly Newsletter. The main bugbear is in the speed we answer the Question & Answer Page on the website, and I will look into how this can be made more efficient.

  1. There has been talk of holding a demonstration in the centre stand on Saturday. What are your thoughts and the trusts stance on this?

I realise the frustration that we are all feeling at the moment, but a demonstration against the manager or players during the match will benefit no one. In fact, there is every chance that it will work against us on the pitch. I believe that all fans must do the complete opposite. It is not about apportioning blame, we have our manager and he has his assistants. We also have our squad of players, and we should be supporting them irrespective of who they are or how they might be playing. They are playing for Swansea City Football Club and the way that we the fans can help them is to scream our support and build an atmosphere at the Vetch that will give us that extra 10%. I remember not so long ago that Brighton found themselves in a similar predicament but they were also fighting owners who were trying to sell their ground. They moved their focus away from them and towards fully supporting the team’s fight against relegation. There were no demonstrations against the management or the players – it was a case of full and undivided support to their team, which culminated in doubling their gates at home matches, and taking away upward of 2,000 fans to away matches. We are not dissimilar to them in size and I personally believe that the Trust should now, in any way it can, rally our supporters to get out in numbers and get behind OUR football club. By the way Brighton stayed up.

  1. Would the trust still be operational if we went down?

Yes – the Trust shareholding will still remain and the Trust will still have part ownership of the Club. In essence providing that the Trust has one member then it will remain in existence.

  1. What is the trust doing to ensure that the Morfa Stadium project will actually go ahead? and what is Leigh’s opinion to the constant delay that the Council is imposing on the project?

There is now a working party set up to move the Morfa project closer to fruition. This involves three persons from the Football Club, three from the Rugby Club and three from the Council, I am one of those sitting on the working party of the club and therefore I have some direct input which can only be good for the Trust. Any delays at present cannot be attributed to the Council but rather to the complexities of bringing the agreement into play. This involves the developer, financier and all other parties that between them contribute to the scheme.

  1. Is there a firm commitment from Brian Flynn to attend the next Question and Answer forum? And could the invitation be extended to his assistant manager.

Yes there is, and the invitation will be extended to the assistant manager.

6. Are the Club doing anything to increase attendances at the Vetch such as offering free tickets to children? More people at the Vetch will give a better atmosphere and will help our team.

It is vital that the Club gets as much support as it possibly can at present. I know as a fan that a big Vetch crowd can intimidate any away team. When we get behind them the lift we must give the players is always noticeable. You only have to see the increased commitment shown in the second half against Bury to know that our vocal support is paramount in helping. We have given free entry to children at quite a few games this season. This Saturday we are cutting prices by 50% in the North Bank in the hope that people will come down and give us the support we need. If those out there who are not regulars want to see Cup Games such as against West Ham and Derby a few years ago, then they must commit themselves to helping us survive. This cut in admission price is another incentive for them to do just that. February 15th will see us giving free admission to all females – I know most of us like to get away for some peace and quite on a Saturday afternoon, but wouldn’t it be a nice to put our better halves obvious vocal talent to good use.

  1. Is there no way we can bring in Cornforth as a motivational advisor/coach as I’m sure he’d work for nothing till the end of the season

Brian Flynn is Director of Football, if he felt that he needed a motivational advisor then I am sure that he would come to the Club Board to ask.

  1. What is the situation (If there is a situation) with stories we keep hearing about BO EKLUND ????? Also, are the club still actively seeking investors and are there any interested parties. NOT SURE IF YOU ARE ALLOWED TO ANSWER ANY OF THESE BUT THOUGHT I WOULD ASK ANYWAY.

We are all fully aware of Bo Ekland through his media coverage. He seems a genuine fan and has genuine interests in the well being of the Club, just like we all do. Whether he wants to become an investor remains to be seen. We have all met him and our doors are always open if he genuinely wants to take this step. We continue to look for the right investors and one or two people have come forward with an interest. Again the Club Board will always listen to offers and will act in what is best for the Football Club. One of the biggest advantages of the Trust having a Supporters’ Director is that when it comes to new investors, we will have a say in whether we feel that any particular person is right for Swansea City Football Club. Mistakes of the past must never be made again.

  1. How about having the Fans forum in a pub or club somewhere as opposed to the VIP room at the vetch, as judging by attendances this is clearly not working. Are there any other things that the trust are considering in order to improve figures who attend these forums

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think a change in the venue for the Fans Forum will bring in more people. If its not working then that is down to the people who stay away.

  1. Swansea council and the Welsh Development Agency (as well as Europe and the Lottery for that matter) have blatantly failed to help us many, many times before; but we need to raise pressure on them to support us – do you have a strategy to gain additional funding for items such as a stadium and youth development from these sources?

If we are talking away from the Morfa, then there is only a certain amount a Government body like the WDA can get involved in. I am not aware of any projects the Club currently have that can benefit from their grants. However, there is Community Funding etc., available and we are looking to benefit from this as best we can.

  1. In the unthinkable scenario of us being relegated out of the Football League: a) Will the Swans be allowed to join the Football Conference, or made to join the Welsh Pyramid Leagues

The Club plays in the English pyramid and will remain so.

b) Do they have to apply

No, the agreement between the Football League and the Conference is set that there be relegation/promotion between the leagues. The only reason we would join the Welsh pyramid is if we chose to.

c) What happens about the lease of the Vetch if we cease to be a Football League Club

There is nothing in the current license that says if we leave the Football League then we must leave the Vetch. d) Finally are the Trust happy that the Club does not have a Chairman appointed.

I have spoken to many people on this subject and the general consensus is that they would prefer to see a Chairman appointed. This is well documented and the other Directors of the Club are fully aware of these thoughts.

  1. We don’t seem to hear alot from the directors about being bottom of the league.Are you doing anything about it?

We may be directors of the Club, but we are fans the same as everybody else, and we feel the same concerns. We are totally focused and committed in getting us out of this predicament. Since Brian has come in we have moved players on to make way for him to strengthen the squad. We expect an experienced mid-field player to join us this week. The CVA does put certain constraints upon us, but we continue to try and strengthen the team within these boundaries and I believe we now have a team that is capable and will move us away from the bottom.

  1. What are the dates for the Payments to clear the CVA debt. At current income are we still on target and could going out of the league have a major affect on the terms & conditions of the CVA. Percentage wise how much have we paid and how long before the debt is cleared

As far as I am aware going out of the league will not alter the terms and conditions of the CVA. The Club Board will have to be prudent with the income it will gain from being in the Conference and will have to make sure that all promised CVA payments are incorporated into its budgets. The CVA will be cleared within a year

14. Would the club put on free travel coaches to Macclesfield or charge a £1 to go?

I think the average cost of a coach is about £500. The Club did subsidise an away trip earlier this season and if we felt it would benefit the players to see a big away support I’m sure that we would look at it again. I doubt very much that the Club could afford to put on the travel totally free.

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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