Well the Trust has certainly been very popular lately.
First we receive a statement from Councillor David Phillips, the Labour Leader in Swansea on Friday pledging discussions about a Liberty Stadium expansion if Labour were returned at the May Council elections.
This was quickly followed by a statement from the Councillor Chris Holley, the leader of Swansea Council highlighting the fact that the current Administration has already started discussions! You can get the gist of things here from the report published in the Western Mail and read the statements in full here.
Labour’s Liberty Stadium pledge – Issued on 17th Feb 2012
Swansea Labour councillors have called on the Lib-Dem led council to stop dithering and get behind the Swans and bring forward credible plans for the expansion of the Liberty Stadium. In a demonstration of intent they announced they would commence discussions with the Football Club about the redevelopment of the Liberty Stadium within 100 days of the election.
Labour’s Shadow Spokesperson for Strategic Development, Cllr Robert Francis Davies, “It’s now looking highly likely that the Swansea will remain in the Premier League. Supporters have been telling the Council since before the Swans were promoted that we would need more seats, I can’t believe it’s taken Chris Holley this long to realise it”.
Cllr Francis Davies added, “Labour built the stadium back in 2004 before the Lib-Dems took over, since when the Lib-Dems have sat back and done nothing to plan for the future needs of the fans. What should have happened is that as soon as promotion was in the bag, plans for expansion of the stadium should have been drawn up, instead of which the Lib-Dems have dithered, doing nothing apart from indulge in huge amounts of free hospitality”.
Cllr Nick Bradley, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesman said, “The promotion of the Swans is a gift for selling the City of Swansea, yet little is being done. My constituents are frustrated by the lack of leadership on this issue from the Lib-Dem Council. Let’s show the Swans real support and work with Swansea FC to help expand the stadium”.
Labour Leader, Cllr. David Phillips said, “The redevelopment and expansion of the Liberty Stadium to meet the needs of the Premier League is a Labour priority. The Swans have raised their game and now the Council must do the same”. Cllr Phillips added “I therefore announce that within 100 days of the election a Labour administration will commence discussions with the Chairman and Board of Swansea City Football Club, so that, in partnership, we can deliver an improved Stadium to match the club’s Premier League status and ambitions”.
Notes: Cllr Francis Davies and Bradley are both season ticket holders at the Liberty.
When the Liberty Stadium was built in 2003/4, it was only the second stadium built for a football club by a local council in the UK – and remains one of very few since. Labour’s philosophy was that providing a quality stadium would lead to footballing success (as it proved) and success would lead to economic and investment opportunity.
The 20,000 seating capacity was agreed with the Football Club itself and was considered adequate. It was calculated on a 15%+ uplift of the average ‘bigger’ gates from the Swans earlier membership of the First Division. It was acknowledged that if the Club was successful it could prove too small.
Liberal Democrat response to Labour Statement – Issued on 19th Feb 2012
Commenting on the pledge by Labour to talk with Swansea City Football Club about extending the Liberty Stadium, Swansea Council Leader, Chris Holley said:
“I very much welcome Labour’s renewed interest in the future of Swansea’s Premier League Football team. After all the last time that they made any comment it was to suggest that the club should be penalised for its success by paying more money to the Council for rent. Councillor David Phillips said “they have raised the spirits now raise the rent” It is just a shame that their enthusiasm for this ground extension could not have come earlier. If Robert Francis Davies and David Phillips had not spoken so strongly in favour of the McDonalds drive through restaurant, then there would be no need for this discussion.
“The current Administration is fully committed to the success of Swansea City Football Club. It is true that the Liberty Stadium was built by the previous Labour Administration but it was the current cabinet who put in place the management arrangements and also ensured that the undersoil heating and the catering facilities that were engineered out of the original scheme on cost grounds were installed so that the clubs could make full use of the stadium.
“I can confirm that the Council has already held talks with the football club about extending the stadium in a number of phases with the east stand first and are prepared to do what they can to facilitate that development once the various legal agreements are sorted out. Also there will be a need to up date the travel plan. Labour’s suggestion that we need to wait until after the elections to hold talks is therefore redundant.
“We are fully confident that the Swans will retain premiership status and this Administration will continue to invest to ensure that the City benefits from that our current agreement with the Welsh Government to promote our city around the world. What is also needed how ever, is a suitably sized stadium to support the club in that status. Instead of playing politics with this issue I would like to invite the Labour group to join with us in achieving that aim.”
Whilst the Trust is delighted to see the strong interest that local politicians are taking in the Swans we don’t particularly care about this political point scoring exercise and just wished that they would get around a table to sort out this sorry mess once and for all, Swansea City is our only concern.