Swansea City’s owners are set to feel another blast of anger and disapproval heading their way across the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday afternoon.
It may be the club’s first home match of their Championship season and Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan may have issued a statement attempting to explain their deadline day fire sale, but the heat has not been taken out of the supporters’ fury.
On social media, Swansea fans have reacted angrily to the Americans’ outlining of their “strategy” and there have been calls for more of the venomous protests at the match against Preston that marked their final few matches in the Premier League last season.
Levien and Kaplan issued their explanation of recent comings and goings on Friday evening, but the downbeat and self-critical tone of the statement appears to have done little to appease supporters.
There was no mention of a fight to return to the Premier League as the owners at West Brom and Stoke City have promised, either this season, next, or in the future – merely an expression of “wanting to press the re-set button”.
Far from conceding that decisions taken on deadline day to allow four players to leave – including two more centre-backs, following the two that had already left – were misguided, there was an insistence that the dealings had worked out well and were entirely consistent with the chosen “strategy”.
Within the statement they said: “We had to make hard decisions and we did. Every decision, though, taken was for a strategic reason as part of our restructuring. As a result of this window we have improved our financial footing and have positioned ourselves for a stronger and more secure future.”
That perspective is at odds with that of the Swansea City Supporters Trust who criticised the club’s owners, saying they have left manager Graham Potter with a “wafer-thin playing squad”.
Federico Fernandez, Jordan Ayew, Jordi Amat and Sam Clucas all left the Liberty City Stadium on Deadline Day, bringing the total number of departures this summer to 12.
The Swans have signed five new players as they look to bounce back from Premier League relegation. But they have only spent in the region of £8m on new additions, despite bringing in more than £46m in transfer fees from outgoing players.
The Trust’s own statement said: “While the loan window remains open and we remain hopeful of new additions, the events of deadline day leave the club with a wafer-thin playing squad.
“Given the mass exodus of senior players, it is not unreasonable to expect that some of that money would have been reinvested into new additions to give Graham Potter the best chance of success.
“Our Supporter Director will be making these feelings known to the rest of the club’s board and seeking assurances that the playing squad will not be further eviscerated in an attempt to cut costs and that new players will be brought in.
Yan Dhanda – Liverpool – Free
Joel Asoo – Sunderland – £2m
Barrie McKay – Nottingham Forest – Undisclosed
Besant Celina – Manchester City – £4m
Declan John – Rangers – £800k
Lukasz Fabianski – West Ham – £7m
Roque Mesa – Sevilla – £8m
Kenji Gore – Nacional Madeira – Free
Kyle Bartley – West Brom – £4m
Alfie Mawson – Fulham – £15m
Sam Clucas – Stoke – £6m
Federico Fernandez – Newcastle United – £6m
Jordi Amat – Rayo Vallecano – Undisclosed fee
Swansea City owners’ statement:
“There comes a time when every football club has to be honest with itself and take the kind of tough decisions that secure its future.
“That’s the point Swansea City has reached. The decisions taken since relegation was confirmed have not been easy ones or ones necessarily supported by the fans. But they are ones designed to safeguard the long-term health of the Club.
“After seven years in the Premier League, relegation was a bitter pill to swallow. Revenues decline dramatically – even when you factor in parachute payments – and you are inevitably left with players determined to leave the club.
“In our case, matters were made worse by transfer mistakes we made in an attempt to survive in the Premier League. We are quite literally paying for these now.
“But we cannot afford to feel sorry for ourselves because that will be be perceived as a point of weakness that other clubs will try to leverage against us.
“Relegation has to be seen as a rebirth for Swansea – a chance to press the re-set button.
“Instead of constantly being on the back foot fighting for survival, we want to be rebuild our club on a strong financial footing with an exciting brand of passing football and players who are eager to improve and hungry to achieve.
“In Graham Potter, we have an innovative coach who has already shown an ability to play an exciting style of high quality football with players determined to be successful. Graham and Kyle Macaulay have done a tremendous job bringing in young and talented footballers.
“We understand fans have expressed disappointment and frustration with the transfer window but there had to be a cultural change.
“The squad was in need of an overhaul because we had players who simply were not going to be part of Graham’s plans and players who made it clear they did not want to play for Swansea City in the Championship.
“To try and keep those players has a corrosive effect on the Club as a whole.
“We had to make hard decisions and we did. Every decision, though, taken was for a strategic reason as part of our restructuring. As a result of this window we have improved our financial footing and have positioned ourselves for a stronger and more secure future.
“There is still work to be done because the loan market is still open and we will do everything we can to support Graham and Kyle in the immediate weeks before the market closes.
“In terms of recruiting players, again we had to be disciplined as we could not – and would not – put the club in a position where, in our view, the fees and wages demanded were not in the best interests of Swansea City. All money received from player sales has gone back into the club.
“We have brought in young players who want to be part of Swansea’s future and we believe there is a nucleus of talent and desire here now.
“We don’t expect everyone to appreciate these words or the decisions taken and there will be negative views out there.
“We understand this has been a hugely painful time for everybody associated with Swansea City and there can be no denying that. Our response is to fight and try to be build for the future.
“Graham asks his players to be brave. To rise above the culture of fear of mistakes and to work hard to constantly improve. We must ask nothing less of ourselves.”
Swansea City Supporters Trust statement:
The Trust Board wants to be a strong voice for the fans of Swansea City and as such, we cannot let the events of transfer deadline day pass without comment. While we fully appreciate that there would be a need to cut costs following relegation from the Premier League, this should have been coupled with a proactive transfer policy to bring in players to replace those who have left. It is worth remembering of course that our relegation from the Premier League was a direct result of similarly poor transfer dealings over the last three years or so by the club’s previous and current owners. We had hoped that the restructuring of recruitment that the club announced meant that we would see a far more constructive and proactive transfer window this time around. That clearly hasn’t happened and the focus has been on moving players out with insufficient regard for ensuring we have a squad equipped to be as competitive as possible.
While the loan window remains open and we remain hopeful of new additions, the events of deadline day leave the club with a wafer thin playing squad. Given the mass exodus of senior players, it is not unreasonable to expect that some of that money would have been reinvested into new additions to give Graham Potter the best chance of success. Our Supporter Director will be making these feelings known to the rest of the club’s board and seeking assurances that the playing squad will not be further eviscerated in an attempt to cut costs and that new players will be brought in.
We urge all Swansea City fans to get behind the team against Preston at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. The fans need to provide Graham Potter, his team and his players with the support that has been so sadly lacking from the club’s owners. However, we also fully understand the fans’ right to voice their displeasure at recent events should they wish to do so.
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