Now that the transfer window has closed, the Trust notes with disappointment the fact that three players, Wilfried Bony, Jefferson Montero and Tom Carroll, have left with no replacements coming the other way to strengthen Graham Potter’s squad. It seems though that it could have been much worse, with the clear desire within the club to also move on Dan James and Leroy Fer. The Trust is relieved and pleased that both James and Fer are still Swansea City players, at least for now.
The Trust’s frustration is not that players have been allowed to leave but that there has been no effort to bring in any replacements and that both Montero and Carroll left for clubs in direct competition with the Swans, as would have been the case it seems for James and Fer.
Once again those in charge of overseeing the club’s transfer dealings have allowed last minute departures to weaken our squad significantly without seemingly have any plans to bring any players in. The final day of the transfer window proved once again that the club seemingly has little interest in ensuring we are competitive on the pitch and is prepared to leave Graham Potter with a significantly reduced squad. Graham Potter had previously said that if players leave, players would be brought in. He presumably made this comment based on assurances he had been given and yet again, he has been let down.
To say that the club’s current transfer policy, such as it is, is short sighted is an understatement and highlights the inept way the club appears to be run now. It is not unreasonable to expect a professional football club to have a plan in place for a transfer window and contingency plans to replace any players who leave. It is also unclear who in the club is responsible for making decisions, allowing confusion to reign. While yesterday could have been much worse had James and Fer left as the club wanted, it does highlight a clear desire by the club to reduce costs at the expense of on field matters.
As a Trust, we fully support the need to run the club on a financially prudent basis and understand that changes are needed to reflect our reduced income in the Championship. However, in the continued absence of detailed financial information, the Trust is unable to confirm whether the desire to move players on is the result of that financial prudence or simply a lack of ambition by our majority owners and those afforded the privilege of running the club on a day to day basis.
It is clear that the club has not learned the lessons from the disasters of previous transfer windows, nor have the desperately needed changes been made to rid the club of the individuals responsible for the mistakes which led to our relegation from the Premier League. This is despite repeated requests over the past two and a half years for the majority owners to create succession plans for the changes needed and of course comments from those in situ, including the chairman, that their own roles would become untenable in the event of relegation. To be prepared to allow five players to leave the club on the final day of a month long transfer window with no replacements lined up is gross negligence on the part of those running the club.
We are disappointed to note the apparent lack of support by the board and owners for Graham Potter, who has steered his team to within sight of the play off places and with a very realistic chance of a second successive FA Cup quarter final. Given the words of the chairman just a few short weeks ago where he stated that a promotion challenge was there for the taking, the events of the transfer window suggest that this is very far from the club’s minds.
That the club was prepared to allow Dan James, a player just breaking into the first team, to leave at the first opportunity highlights a very real lack of ambition for the club and zero support for the manager. While we support the removal of some of the club’s top earners, to consider allowing young talent like Dan to leave goes against many of the principles on which we, and our manager, would like to pride ourselves.
There are two clear things that need to happen as a direct result of this transfer window. First and once again the Trust finds itself calling for the immediate removal of Huw Jenkins as chairman. Despite the excellent job that Mr Jenkins did in supporting the Swans’ rise to the Premier League he is also largely responsible for the horrendous transfer dealings of the past few years that resulted in both our relegation and the dire situation in which we now find ourselves, where the club is prepared to offload prized assets to our immediate rivals. We have long since suggested that the club’s majority owners should have considered succession planning to replace Mr Jenkins but these words have fallen on deaf ears and the result is the current situation. The club has to stop repeating the same mistakes and the removal of the chairman is the first step towards that happening. We should not forget that our inability to move on the high earners has been a hindrance to us in the last two windows. This is a direct result of the transfer deals struck in previous windows where we have overpaid both in fees and wages for players who have failed to deliver on the pitch.
Secondly, we call on the club’s majority owners to be totally transparent and communicate to the fans the reasons for taking the decisions they have taken and were prepared to take. If the reasons are purely financial then why haven’t the significant cuts being made on the playing side been reflected off the pitch? The club has a number of highly-paid executives strongly rumoured to be paid in line with Premier League income rather than that of a financially prudent Championship club. It is time for those who made great play when they arrived of being so keen on the ownership model and close community club that they saw in Swansea City to stand true to those beliefs and be present in Swansea and accountable for the poor decisions they are making. Our wage bill off the pitch is as unsustainable in this division as we were told our on the pitch outgoings are, yet the people who made and continue to make those decisions are still being paid as though they’re somehow considered to be doing an acceptable job. They clearly aren’t.
It is therefore well overdue that the club undertakes a full review of the off the field staff, overall costs and budgets and ensures these are in line with a club in the Championship with a vastly reduced income.
The continued reduction in numbers of the first team squad and the continued presence of the former shareholders and their extended families enjoying the hospitality of the football club are a smack in the face of the club’s supporters. For these reasons, the club is as far detached from its fan base now as it has ever have been in the club’s history.
Changes simply need to be made and the events of the most recent transfer window serve to highlight that beyond all doubt yet again.