Thursday 19 July 2018

Swansea considering American takeover

Swansea City are in talks to be taken over by American investors
Swansea City are in talks to be taken over by American investors

Swansea are poised to be the latest Barclays Premier League club to come under foreign ownership.

Board members have discussed an agreement which would see American businessman Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien and their investment group acquiring a controlling interest in Swansea.

The club have said talks will continue with the aim of an agreement being ratified by the end of the season.

"Swansea City Football Club can confirm that it is working to finalise an agreement to bring in a new major shareholder," said a club statement.

"The club will endeavour to keep supporters informed of developments, but no further comment will be made at this stage."

The deal, which could be worth as much as £100million, will see chairman Huw Jenkins and vice-chairman Leigh Dineen remain in their management roles at the Liberty Stadium.

Jenkins said: "We believe we have a proposal which helps Swansea City progress both on and off the field."

Kaplan is a shareholder in the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and Levien is managing general partner at Major League Soccer outfit DC United.

Levien has held roles at the Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers having previously brokered multi-million pound contracts as an NBA agent.

He also serves as a key advisor to Inter Milan majority owner and president Erick Thohir, who purchased the Italian giants in 2013 and co-owns DC United with Levien.

Swansea held talks with American businessman Charles Noell and John Jay Moores over a potential sale of the club in 2014.

But those talks broke down with the Supporters Trust - who own 21 per cent of the club and have a representative on the board - concerned about the deal.

The Trust published an article on its website on Tuesday saying it was "open-minded" over the issue of a change in the shareholding of the club.

Representatives of the Trust met with Levien on Saturday morning, ahead of Swansea's 1-0 home victory over Chelsea, and the meeting was described as "constructive".

But the Trust statement added: "It would be highly premature for us to reach any conclusion on whether such a sale on the terms proposed would be in the best interest of the football club and its supporters."

The Trust also added it was disappointed that it was not provided with more time to consider the deal prior to it being made public.

Trust chairman Phil Sumbler said: "We have been aware of the terms of the potential deal for around two weeks.

"It has become apparent though that the discussions have been taking place since December and not all shareholders have been allowed to be part of those discussions.

"As we understood from two meetings I attended this morning we are not near the conclusion that this announcement suggests, and we are surprised that the information was released without the consent of all shareholders."

As well as keeping supporters onside, the American group is also keen to utilise the experience of Jenkins as the club prepares for a sixth season of Premier League football next year when the new £5.14 billion broadcast deal kicks in.

Swansea virtually guaranteed their safety by beating Chelsea to reach the 40-point mark and want to expand the Liberty Stadium, which has a 20,500-capacity and is the second smallest ground in the Premier League.

The club has been in talks with Swansea City Council over the last 18 months to buy the stadium.

The proposed American takeover could lead to both the purchase and expansion of the stadium, as well as investment in the playing squad this summer.

Press Association

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