Sunday 25 February 2018

Swansea takeover completed after delay

Huw Jenkins has new colleagues on Swansea's board
Huw Jenkins has new colleagues on Swansea's board

Swansea's takeover by an American consortium has been completed.

The consortium led by Steve Kaplan and J ason Levien has bought a 60 per cent stake in the Premier League club.

The reported £110million deal, which received Premier League ratification on July 1, was completed on Thursday night after a press conference to announce the purchase earlier in the day was postponed because of a dispute between two minority shareholders.

In a joint statement on the official Swansea website, Kaplan and Levien said: " We recognise this club means so much to so many people and we take the responsibility as owners very seriously."

Confirmation of the deal comes a year after Kaplan and Levien, who have extensive experience of being involved in sports in the United States, first set their sights on making a Premier League investment.

The pair said they studied other top-flight clubs but felt investing in Swansea - who have been in the Premier League for the last five seasons - was the right choice.

"A number of people have asked us why the Premier League and why Swansea City? Quite simply we believe the Premier League is the greatest football league in the world," said the Kaplan and Levien statement.

"It has the greatest collection of players and, most importantly, it is the most competitive league, where on any given day any team in the league can beat another.

"We love the passion and the physical style of play.

"Premier League matches are always high drama, where it feels as if anything can happen - and often does! We are blessed to have an opportunity to be owners in such an amazing league.

"Once we decided on the Premier League, we looked for a club that possessed a particular style of football on the pitch that we believe will give rise to sustainable long-term success.

"We also wanted to be a part of a club that was at the very heart and soul of the community in which it plays. Over the course of a year we looked at a few clubs, but as we dug down deeper, our focus always returned to the Swans."

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins will remain at the Liberty Stadium in an executive role and be in charge of the daily running of the club.

The shareholding of the Swansea Supporters' Trust, which owns 21 per cent of the club, remains unchanged.

The Trust this week expressed its disappointment at the lack of engagement by the consortium during the takeover process, but the joint statement made a point of hailing the "historic and powerful relationship between the fans and the club".

"We were attracted to the team's distinctive style of play and we loved the intensity of the relationship between the fans and the football team," it read.

"Backed by the Supporters' Trust, no other team's support base is as strong as Swansea's.

"This historic and powerful relationship between the fans and the club is the single most important answer to the question, 'Why Swansea City?'

"It's a unique story of a club rescued by a combination of mainly local businessmen and a group of fans who decided they couldn't stand by and let something they love die.

"To us, it was an incredible achievement and one that truly resonated. We were hooked, we knew we wanted to be involved.

"We recognise this club means so much to so many people and we take the responsibility as owners very seriously. While we plan on being long-term owners we know the team belongs to the community.

"In essence, we see ourselves as guardians of the club but it belongs to the fans of Swansea City.

"One thing we want to be clear about is our priorities as owners.

"Priority number one, two and three is the performance of the team on the pitch. We will field a competitive team that will battle every week against the greatest teams and players in the world.

"It is our intent and goal to be a long-term fixture in the Premier League that competes on a consistent basis with some of the finest teams in the world.

"We think it's important to acknowledge and show our respect to all those original shareholders who helped rescue the club and invested in their community, not to make a quick return, but to save something they loved, something that was so important to Swansea.

"We also want to acknowledge the Supporters' Trust which will remain a significant shareholder in the club.

"In that regard, we plan to work with the Trust as our partners in determining the best path to expand and improve the fan experience at the Liberty Stadium."

The open letter to supporters brought an end to what had been a confused day at the Liberty Stadium.

A press conference had been called for 4pm to announce confirmation of the deal, but the club said an "existing legal dispute between two minority shareholders" finally saw its cancellation two-and-a-half hours later.

Swansea will now stage a press conference on Friday morning where Levien and Jenkins will outline the deal further.

Press Association

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