Reproduced below is the text of the Swans Trust Chairman’s update that was released to Swans Trust members during last week’s Trust members’ meeting. (September 5th):
‘It has been almost three weeks since the last update I provided to our members about events at Swans Trust, at what is a critical time for both the Trust and the Club.
I have some key updates for you around the mediation process that we announced in May and the questions we have asked the football club around the decisions taken over the last few months.
Let me start with an update about the mediation process. In May, we informed our members that we had attempted to engage with the majority owners of Swansea City and other parties (including Huw Jenkins and Martin Morgan) through a formal mediation process, beginning with a claim letter that set out the Trust’s legal case in detail and proposed a mediation. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which relevant parties seek to resolve disputes with the assistance of a trained independent and impartial mediator.
Our aim was, and remains, to seek an agreement to settle past differences, subject to members’ approval, with a view to moving ahead together with the task of rebuilding the club and returning it to top level football.
The Trust entered this process in good faith, attempting to resolve all issues without the need for formal court proceedings. Unfortunately, the legal representatives of the majority owners initially refused our offer to mediate, questioning whether it was genuine, and bizarrely accused the Trust of trying to harm the Club.
An initial ’Without Prejudice’ meeting was held with Huw Jenkins and Martin Morgan in early June, however there has been no follow up meeting with them or their lawyers, although the Trust was open to the possibility.
The courts have a ‘Practice Direction’, which sets out the guidelines which parties in dispute should follow before they start court proceedings. This includes trying to reach agreement by means such as mediation. The Practice Direction outlines a maximum timeline within which the relevant parties should provide a full written response to the Trust’s claim. The Trust and its legal representatives have provided every opportunity for this to be met, even allowing the maximum possible timeline which is usually reserved for more complex cases than this. Unfortunately, this deadline passed on 20thAugust without a response being received, either from the majority owners or the others.
Since the deadline passed, things have progressed a little. Our legal team were contacted by the legal representatives of the majority owners and, as a result, we are currently in discussions to arrange a meeting between the Trust, the majority owners and other parties within the next few weeks.
As a Trust, we must continue to protect our legal position. As part of the mediation process, the Trust requested access to various pieces of documentation relating to the 2016 sale. These documents have not yet been received. On the advice of our legal team, the Trust board has instructed our lawyers to initiate legal action to obtain access to these documents, unless they are provided within a further 7 days. This is a limited legal action specifically to obtain access to these documents. It is not the same as undertaking legal action relating to the sale itself and its impact on the Trust’s shareholding. We hope those issues can still be resolved as part of the discussions that are scheduled to take place in the next few weeks. However, these documents are important so that the Trust can best advise its members on the next course of action to take, which could mean undertaking legal action relating to the 2016 sale and its impact on the Trust’s position.
I can assure you that we will investigate every option available to us to ensure that we get the right result for the Trust, which will only be concluded following a full consultation and ballot of our members. We will, of course, continue to keep you updated as things progress.
As representatives of the fans, it is key that we understand the reasons for decisions made by the Club and gain assurances on the financial management of the Club. In my last update, I said that the Trust had sent a comprehensive list of questions to the majority owners of the Club, to obtain some clarity on the club’s financial position after this summer, understand the reasons for why decisions were made as well as seeking to ensure that the decisions taken are in the best interests of the Club. Many of these questions related to our transfer dealings this summer, but we also sought clarity on our financial obligations in the future, such as the salaries of senior employees. We know that relegation to the Championship means that we will receive considerably less revenue than previously, and we need to cut our cloth accordingly, but without visibility on the current situation we cannot say if the decisions taken were in the Club’s best interests.
The majority owners have responded to our requests and offered to meet with Stuart MacDonald, our Supporter Director, to answer our questions and provide those assurances. That was a positive step. However, the club have also insisted that before any meeting takes place that an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) was signed by Stuart. This NDA would have prevented Stuart releasing key information into the public domain but, crucially, also stopped him from providing any information to the Trust board. This is unacceptable as it would mean that the Trust board could not gain the reassurances that we needed, plus puts our Supporter Director in an impossible position.
We have advised the majority owners that our Supporter Director will not be signing this document and we are deeply disappointed and angry that it was suggested he should sign in the first place given both Stuart’s position as a Director of the Club (which already brings with it fiduciary duties regarding confidential information being made public) but also our position as a 21% shareholder and representative of the fans. We will continue to push for these answers but not being able to provide them at this time is very disappointing.
On a separate note we were pleased to play a part in the competitive pricing for the Carabao Cup tie against Crystal Palace and we commend the club for listening to our viewpoints on this matter. While the result did not go our way, there were some promising debuts for some of our younger players which was pleasing to see.
I would also like to applaud the excellent efforts of Graham Potter, the coaching staff and the playing squad in performing so well at the start of this season. There has also been an obvious change in footballing philosophy on the pitch and this has made watching the Swans a much more enjoyable experience than in recent times.
This is a critical time for this organisation, and the Club as a whole. The Trust is only as strong as its membership and, in the coming weeks, we will be seeking to increase our membership base to provide as strong a voice for the fans as possible. We would welcome your help in getting the message out to fans about the importance of joining and the need for a strong Supporters Trust, especially at this time.
I would like to thank everyone who has joined us this evening and for all members who have already joined for this year. We will now open for any questions’