Ekland Interview

Thursday, 6 February 2003, 0:01
9 mins read

Well those same fans had questions for him and Robert Elsey was kind enough to volunteer to contact Bo and ask him those questions. At JackArmy.net we pondered whether those questions should be asked or whether we close the chapter and forget it but if the fans want to know then the answer was “yes, they should be asked”

To begin with, Rob asked Bo how his interest in Swansea City cam about and a bit on his background “I am 58 years old and I have worked with financing most of my life. At the moment, among numerous other activities I am involved in a building project in France.

“I am married and have four kids and two grandkids. My youngest two sons play in a local team and love football. I have been a great fan of “DjurgÃ¥rdens IF” all my life and had the pleasure to see them as Swedish champions last season. My younger brother have two sons very succesfully playing in two of “DjurgÃ¥rdens” junior teams.

I was introduced to Swanseacfc by Tony Jenkins six or seven years ago and I found in Scfc my second team to follow. I am worried about the present situation and I can only hope that the good results continue.”

He then went on to answer the questions that had been posed by the fans

Ian Roberts:

Why couldn’t you work alongside the current board?

No I have no problem working with the current board as long as they are competent and independent. The question of ownership is a different matter and in the event of the Morfa investment, the club must be owned by the commercial entity to allow the transfer of funds to the club.

And what size of investment were you looking at?

In the Morfa case my guess is that we were probably talking £ millions rather than thousands. As for now I would say that money is not the only contribution available, access to good players on loan etc as well as widening the activity of the club for funding is the best investment long term.

Would you have been prepared to meet the supporters?

I have already met a good few supporters and when in a position to actually being able to do something for the club this is a must and will be a continuous communication.

Nigel Saunders:

How to invest and how much?

In the Morfa case I had planned a continuous contribution to the club from the business activities based on what the club would need to regain its former status as one of the major football clubs in the country. My intention was to invest a strong part of the profit back to the club. As I have stated before running a football club will not make you rich but happy if you can afford it.

And debts on the club?

I have followed the club for some time and some eras were not the best perhaps like Petty ´s. I have also seen 9th floor mentioned as a bad example but if I remember right they invested and lost about £4,5 million in the club and also gave Mike Lewis cash to last him six months of running the club and they later sold the car park and clubshop below market price to Mel Nurse in his efforts to challenge Petty. Today I am afraid there is not much of collateral in the club to offer to a debtor. The club is basically funded by the supporters passing the gates, the buckets, the lotteries, the clubshop and the sponsoring. For myself I am facing a new situation where I cannot lean back on a profitable venture connected with the club for continous financial support and as I have said before it will not help the club to invest little or big monies if the club has no plan for the future.

Jannik Hansen:

What about the suspicion and questions from the fans?

First, I understand the uneasiness when someone from exotic Sweden enters the platform. Then you must bear in mind that the discussions I had with officials were under confidentiality code and I am not the one to break such codes. A lot of questions were asked but impossible for me to answer at that moment. And as I have stated before: there is no money to make out of a football club as the nature of a club is to invest what you get in a better team etc. But if you can find a viable business to support the club then the situation is getting quite different.

Were you interested just to make a quick buck?

I want to do the opposite and there are no quick bucks in the club but maybe a lot of satisfaction if everything goes well.

Matthew Parry:

What did you not like about the comments on the web-sites?

First people who are already involved have no option but to stand up and face the hard words. Until you have moved in you have the option to stay out of it if you do not like what you hear. My case is quite simple. When my sister was being harassed on the web sites I had to pull out. She had nothing to do with my plans for the club. Shane stated “Swans fans are hard but fair”!

And how did you plan to invest?

I share your feelings for the club but when it comes to how to invest I have explained in an earlier question that in the Morfa investment the club and the stadium had to have the same owners. Again you do not have to accept a new member of the board just because he shows his wallet but he or she must be an asset to the club in action and in moral. I am a fighter but every boxer has a belt….

Lee Waters on investment:

As I have mentioned before I do not find it clever to invest money without knowing how it will be used and there are so many other ways you can support the club apart from just injecting cash and you are absolutely right “it just happens” and everybody is needed to help the club now! So just let it happen!

Shane Sinclair:

About the meetings you held

As I said in an earlier quest – when shots where taken at my sister I pulled out. She is my best friend and she has never let anyone down or acted indecently and I would never put my success before her wellbeing.

I had contact with the board and we have agreed to meet on my next visit to Swansea. I meet with a representative from the council and then sent them a letter but they answered me through the press and told me off. Apparently something was wrong as I tried to contact the person I met at the council but I was suddenly unable to get in touch with him so he was probably forbidden to talk to me again. I only wanted to ask him if the council intended to answer my letter. Unfortunately my steps leaked out and where debated in a strange manner on the web sites. I could not explain myself as this would mean breaking the confidentiality code. In a business situation you cannot reveal your plans until you have everything in place. Investors have seldom a whish to reveal themselves unless they are part of a successful venture.

Celia Griver:

Why are you a fan and for how long?

I was introduced to Swansea six, seven or is it eight years ago by a friend and in a way that showed me that Swansea had that little extra that makes you “swans till I die” difficult to explain but very powerful.

Ben Charles:

When is Swansea a success?

I have earlier stated that an investment alone will never help the club. Succes is a combination of different factors. The most important factor is the fan base and you can already talk about success when five and a half thousand fans repeatedly attend to our home games. The second is a board of competence and of independence. The third is enough funding to ensure the continuation of the club. The fourth is backing from the local government.

Success is when you start winning and success starts when we have left the zone of relegation then success gets more intense when we start competing for the top positions with a possibility to advance to 2nd division and this goes on and on so my answer is really that we are close to a success now and with luck, 6 000+ on the Vetch, hard work and good management this success will continue within the next season and onwards.

Bo also continued directly to Rob “To run a football club without money must be a disaster. You know the limited income you have to meet the cost. As far as I can see the gates must be the main source of income to the club at the moment. The board has been ingenious in cutting the entrance by half attracting crowds of more than 5 thousand. When tickets go back to normal again hopefully crowds of 5 thousand +, still come to see the matches and contribute to the funding of the club.

“Personally I think the club must make money every day through different activities and arrangements. If you depend on the gates, the buckets and the little lotteries the only ones to fund the club will be the fans going to the matches. This is not enough for the club to survive and develop. You need a much larger population to support the club or you need someone with a big hart for the club and a big big wallet. The whole population of Swansea and nearby areas, benefit from the club´s existence. Football is a part of the councilscommittment as entertainment and as an activity. I offered to take over the public commitment to build the football stadium and in that saving £26 million of the taxpayers money plus millions in future upkeeping. The council answered me in the press that there was no need for me and then they obviously silenced the man I met in the council because I cannot get in touch with him again to find out if the council will answer my letter or not.

“In being allowed to explore the stadium part of the Morfa, not the commercial area on the east side of the river, it would have been possible to support the club from the profit. As you well understand the club needs to be “under the same roof” as the business in order to be able to fund the club from the business.

“As I have pulled out of the Morfa project I see no immediate need to “own” the club to support the club. But actions must be taken very soon now to ensure the future of the club.

“First of all, running a football club is like running a vulnerable business. And like any other business you must base the running of the club on a businessplan and you must have a business idea that everybody involved can understand and identify with. Then you must make sure that you set up a budget where ends meet. But first of all you must ask yourself if there is any need for this business at all.

“You cannot live from the gates alone so the business plan should include ways to earn money every day of the week.

Bo Ekland Was talking to Robert Elsey

JackArmy.net Comment – we were very sceptical of Bo Ekland when he went straight to the press with his intentions instead of the normal way of through the existing board. Forget the stories of a couple of weeks ago, this has been ongoing for years. The fact that he could see the only way into the club was via the Moent.rfa stadium makes me worry. I have no problem in people wanting to make money but the Morfa is a done deal and has been for months/years. Previous owners have tried this and been put back on it and left. Why should this one think that anything was any differ

I do not recall threats to Mr Ekland’s sister just people who wondered whether we really needed this man at the football club. Do not be fooled he has not ‘pulled out’ of the Morfa development – you cannot pull out of something that you have never been involved in. If a discussion is being involved then I hereby announce my intention to pull out of the Morfa too.

I hope that Bo Ekland continues his support of Swansea City in years to come and I hope that next time he visits the Vetch he receives as warmer welcome as he has previously talked about. He should bear no grudge for the fact that the fans would not encompass his ideas merely accept that our first priority is Swansea City Football Club. That is the football club with or without the Morfa Stadium

I’m sorry but I can shed no tears at the loss of Mr Ekland’s interest in the football club but credit to him for answering questions that the fan’s had. I think we have seen that the real reason for the pull out is probably the cold shoulder he received from the council – it’s just a shame that he had to blame the fans for all of this.

This football club has been kicked enough in recent years and you would assume that those closest to Ekland would have explained the fan’s reasons for suspicion. Morfa Stadium is a private venture and one we must remember that is supposed to encompass a rugby club too (assuming we still have one!) Swansea City is a limited company whose main business is football – a fan would see that and we can only say thanks to the fans we have who are doing the best they can with the resources available. I am sure that they would welcome an investment from any ‘fan’ if it was for the football club.

We have lost Mr Ekland and whilst I know people that were behind him I cannot say that I am sorry.

I now consider this chapter closed.

 

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