“We want to build a football club that is competitive, exciting to watch and sustainable over the long term” – words used by Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien in the Jack magazine in August 2016, less than one month after they took over the football club. Words that are as hollow now as they probably were back then.
Less than 24 hours after those words, the Swans were beaten at home by Hull, the first home game of a season that saw us have three managers (Guidolin, Bradley and Clement) and for large parts stare into the abyss of the Premier League trap door that eventually stayed shut for 12 more months.
Since that point in time, the amount of time we have heard from our majority owners with any substance can be counted pretty much on the fingers of one hand. There was a rare interview in September 2018 (on their terms in Washington) where Wales Online were invited to ask questions of the owners but there was no challenge, no criticism just a printing of what the majority owners wanted us to hear – “We’re dug in. We’re not selling the club. We’re here to rebuild and we’re determined,” said Kaplan. “So if anybody’s hoping we’re selling the club, they’re sorely mistaken. You’re going to be stuck with us for a while.”
They have barely been seen in Swansea since relegation from the Premier League was confirmed on that miserable Sunday against Stoke. We disappeared from the league in the same way as messrs Kaplan and Levien have disappeared from the Liberty as a whole. As we have battled through the departure of Graham Potter, a season of Steve Cooper, two years in the Championship, the tricky work of balancing the books, the changing of a Chairman and now a global pandemic the silence from across the pond has been deafening. Not a word, a whimper, a glimmer of hope or anything to say anything other than they have grown bored of Swansea City.
There are plenty of words on the street that say they have had enough and are ready to cut the losses they will make on the club. Three years with a nil investment, an expensive relegation, several high profile sackings needing compensation, crazy contracts on lazy purchases and that is before the wasted money on a city centre club shop. buying a stadium lease and several other poor decisions none of which have made the football club any stronger for their tenure in South Wales. The next level? Certainly not upwards and more than one level downwards into the process.
I could go on for some time about due diligence and the decisions taken to sell to this investment group but that is one for another day. This is about the complete silence that we have had in the past four months. As football – not just Swansea City – faces into its biggest crisis ever, our owners are as absent now as they have been since the trips to Old Trafford and Anfield ended. We simply do not hear a word from them, no sign of investment, no sign that they are concerned about the future of the club and certainly no sign that they are prepared to do anything to assist us.
Of course they can use the excuse that travel has been difficult due to the pandemic but as the rest of the world has switched to video links, we can only assume that in New York and California the bandwidth is so much in demand that even a WhatsApp recording of their plans to secure the long terms future of the club are beyond a possibility.
Make no mistake that our 28 strong ownership would get out of this club now if someone was to come along and make the right offer. The problem is those that seem likely to sell are so quiet that nobody even knows what that offer would be. It is akin to you trying to sell your house without a board or telling anyone you are wanting to sell. You just hope that someone with enough money to keep the club afloat has sufficient ESP to know that there is a chance here.
The question that remains beyond that though is what happens if the buyer doesn’t come forward. We know that there will be no investment and we know – from the silence – there is no desire to step in and support the club. So what is next for us? By my calculations the black hole over the next two years will run into at least an eight figure sum which means an additional reliance on a youth system that has kept us afloat already for two years and the sale of any asset we manage to develop. But with that black hole it will also mean the scaling down of our youth facilities which can have the knock on effect that we don’t have talent lined up to replace them. With a pessimistic head on that could mean League One football, it could mean administration. With an optimistic head on, it is a hope that we can sustain Championship football and somehow get the club onto an even keel.
But with the invisible men in charge those words – fed to Wales Online less than two years ago (and I repeat them again) “We’re here to rebuild and we’re determined” are as hollow and meaningless as the opening line “We want to build a football club that is competitive, exciting to watch and sustainable over the long term.” Neither statement rang true when the words were spoken and neither line rings true now.
For sale. One football club. Apply within?