Sunday 25 June 2017

Swansea owners insist chairman Huw Jenkins has long-term future at the club

Under-fire Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has a long-term future at the Premier League club, say the American owners.
Under-fire Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has a long-term future at the Premier League club, say the American owners.

Swansea's American owners have pledged chairman Huw Jenkins will stay at the Premier League club for "a long time" despite criticism from fans.

Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien answered questions at a forum hosted by Swansea City Supporters' Trust on Tuesday night, and admitted to mistakes over last season's takeover and the managerial appointment of Bob Bradley.

The former United States manager lasted only 85 days before he was sacked in December.

But the owners defended Jenkins who, with other selling shareholders, was urged to leave during Swansea's troubled start to the season.

"I expect him to be here a long time," Kaplan said of Jenkins. "He cares about the club deeply.

"Not all his decisions are right, not all my decisions are right decisions, not all Jason's are either.

"But he cares deeply about the club. He was instrumental in getting the club to where it is.

"We have all made mistakes along the way, but Huw is our long-term partner.

"He's been very open to new ideas and he has been great to work with."

Kaplan and Levien bought a controlling stake of 68 per cent in the club in July, a transaction which saw selling shareholders such as Jenkins make millions in profit.

The Supporters' Trust, which owns over 21 per cent in the club, was not fully consulted over the deal and tensions ran high for several months after the Americans had taken control.

"I think mistakes were made in the acquisition process. Looking back now, I would have liked to engage earlier with the Trust," Levien said.

"I cannot speak for the shareholders, but I know for more than a decade they led the club to great success.

"I think the board who were here during that period deserve respect."

Levien also owned up to mistakes in the transfer market, with the struggles of record signing Borja Baston - who has scored only once since his £15.5million summer move from Atletico Madrid - highlighted at the forum.

And he spoke candidly about the ill-fated Bradley era, which brought only two wins in 11 games and left Swansea deep in relegation trouble.

"I take responsibility for that," Levien said of his decision to appoint the Premier League's first American manager.

"It was our first 60 days as owners. Prior to Bob's arrival we were struggling, so it is not all about that 85-day period.

"It was not working with the previous manager (Francesco Guidolin), as was the case with the second manager, and we made the change we felt was needed.

"We will make mistakes but when we see the need to make a change we will be decisive in making that change."

Swansea have improved under Paul Clement since January, but they are only one place and one point above the relegation zone ahead with eight games left to play.

But Levien insists there are plans to increase the Liberty Stadium's modest capacity of 20,520 even if Swansea are relegated.

"We are not looking at changes to the stadium just for next season, it is for the long term," Levien said.

"Obviously there will be plenty of considerations to factor in if we change leagues, but the decision over the stadium will not be taken with just next year in mind.

"We have a variety of options on stadium expansion. The key is to do it the right way."

Press Association

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