Over the past few days, Swansea City Supporter’s Trust has released details of its new governance process, which has been put in place following a review of all roles on the Trust board, including that of the Supporter Director.
The review also included details of payments made by Swansea City FC to the Supporter Director, which in the last financial year totalled £38,558. The Trust wishes to place on record that these payments have been made for the two distinct roles that Huw Cooze has held, being Supporter Director since 2006, and taking on in addition the Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) role in 2012.
It is mandatory for all Premier League clubs to have an SLO and it is also now mandatory that this is a full time role. When we were promoted to the Premier League in 2011, the football club asked the Supporter Director to take on the SLO role. This request that was supported and approved by the Trust Board at that time.
The SLO is responsible for a variety of tasks, some of which overlap with the Supporter Director’s responsibilities. In time, the role has expanded and is now almost a full time commitment to the football club.
The Trust has recognised this in its new governance guidelines, albeit belatedly, and the Trust’s rules now state that the SLO and Supporter Director roles should be separated. This decision has been taken because of the increasing demands of the SLO role and the fact that it is a full time position that commands an appropriate salary. The SLO role will no longer be carried out by a Supporters’ Trust representative.
Also since our rise to the Premier League, the football club board has voted to pay fees to all directors, including the Supporter Director. The amounts paid varied depending on each director’s role within the club. The fees paid have varied each year in line with proposals made by the board of the football club. The last payment to the Supporter Director reflected Huw’s dual roles of Supporter Director and SLO.
It is important for members to be aware that in previous years, the amount received by the Supporter Director has been less than the salary that is usually payable to an SLO, despite Huw carrying out all the demands of the role. As these demands increased, so did the payments made to Huw and this has formed part of the Trust Board’s decision that the roles should now be separated.
It is also important to note that Huw has not received £40,000 every year since fees were first approved by the football club. The Trust can now confirm that Huw received £5934 in 2010 and £7219 in 2011, which was recompense for loss of earnings. This rose to £12633 in 2012, £14438 in 2013, £18452 in 2014, and £20028 in 2015, the increases reflecting the evolving nature of the roles Huw was carrying out. It is only in the last year that the £38,558 payment was made, again an increase reflecting the increasing nature of the roles Huw was undertaking. This is why the review of roles and governance was put in place by the Trust Board.
The Trust board recognises that the lack of transparency in this area and the failure to insist that the payments should be processed through the Trust itself has led to justifiable concerns being expressed by members since the figures were published. This information should have been released far earlier and for this the Trust Board would like to apologise unreservedly to members.
The role that Huw initially took on as Supporter Director has evolved significantly. Huw’s commitment to maintaining a strong working relationship with the football club has led to his involvement in many aspects of club business. This has led to the Supporter Director having a far wider remit that was originally envisaged.
As a brief indication of the workload that his role has entailed, by no means comprehensive, Huw has been involved in Club strategy and policy, ticketing and customer service, and attending meetings involving the following on a regular basis – Club Board, Trust Board, Shareholders, Safety Advisory Group, Supporters Direct, Football Supporters Federation, Council officials, sponsors, Community Trust, SSMC, Disability group, and Visit Football. He also regularly engages with opposition directors and supporter representatives on home and away match days, liaises with media, hosts visitor groups, is involved in global fanbase building, and has been the focal point for Premier League led directives.
This role of the Supporter Director going forward has also been addressed in the new governance guidelines. We have put in case key controls for the future as well as guidelines for payments, commercial relationships with the club and employment of Trust Board members by the football club.
However, it is with deep regret that we can confirm that Huw Cooze has informed the Trust Board of his decision to resign as Supporter Director with immediate effect. Huw will also stand down from the Trust Board. Huw has devoted more than 14 years to the Trust as a serving board member and has been an integral part of both the football club and the Trust board during Swansea City’s most successful period. Huw has taken this decision with great sadness and to allow the Trust to start afresh following the implementation of our new governance guidelines.
It is testament to Huw’s tenacity in looking after the interests of the supporters that he was the immediate choice of the football club to take on the role of SLO when the club reached the Premier League. The Trust Board has never had reason to question Huw’s integrity, and has always had full confidence that his actions as Supporter Director were based solely on a desire to do what was best for Swansea City and its supporters.
Trust Chairman Phil Sumbler said:
It has been a great pleasure to work with Huw over the last ten years in his role as Supporter Director. During that time, Huw has gained many wins for our supporters and I know that he has continually been a strong voice for the fans in the boardroom.
I have seen the impact that he has had within the club and also the way that he has fought for the key issues that we believe in which include, but are not limited to, £69 children season tickets, price freeze every season with one reduction, senior threshold kept at age 60, deals for away fans including offers at clubs and of course our excellent £22 and now £20 away tickets, and also the supporters service office that sits at the front of the Liberty Stadium was something that Huw fought hard for.
I am deeply saddened that Huw is stepping down but I understand his reasons for doing so. I would like to place on records that some of the personal comments aimed at Huw recently have been unnecessary and hurtful. The whole Trust board wishes Huw every happiness for the future and thanks him for his work for both the Trust and Swansea City.
We will now look to appoint a new Supporter Director. We anticipate that this appointment will be made on an interim basis until the end of the season.
The governance review that has just been completed has defined the role and responsibilities of the Supporter Director, including ensuring that any fees will be paid directly to the Trust to ensure transparency and consistency.
The payments Huw received were supported and approved by the Trust board, and when we reached the Premier League we recognised the increasing demands of his role. However, as Huw’s payments increased, it was clear that the review we have just completed was necessary.
I accept that effective governance has been lacking in recent years. It is important that we learn from these mistakes and move forwards concentrating on the future and not the past.
It is now key for us to appoint a new Supporter Director and continue discussions with Swansea City’s new owners, to find the solution that we referred to last week. I ask that all members work with us to ensure we get there and not allow these issues to distract from that point.
We have a meeting planned with Jason Levien on his next visit to discuss matters and that must now be the focus going forward.”
You can read the Swansea City Supporters’ Trust Governance Guidelines for Trust Board Members on our ‘Join the Trust Board’ page.