Swansea set to bring in new majority shareholder

Date published: Saturday 9th April 2016 7:36

Swansea City: Set to bring in new majority shareholder

Swansea City are finalising a deal with an American investment group regarding the purchasing of a controlling stake in the club.

The Barclays Premier League club said talks with American businessmen could be wrapped up by the end of the season.

The investment group are being led by Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien, both of whom have an extensive sporting backgrounds in the United States.

“Swansea City Football Club can confirm it is working to finalise to bring in a new majority shareholder,” said a club statement.

The deal, which could be worth as much as £100million, will see chairman Huw Jenkins and vice-chairman Leigh Dineen remain in their management roles at the Liberty Stadium.

Jenkins said: “We believe we have a proposal which helps Swansea City progress both on and off the field.”

Kaplan is a shareholder in the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and Levien is managing general partner at Major League Soccer outfit DC United.

Levien has held roles at the Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers having previously brokered multi-million pound contracts as an NBA agent.

He also serves as a key advisor to Inter Milan majority owner and president Erick Thohir, who purchased the Italian giants in 2013 and co-owns DC United with Levien.

Swansea held talks with American businessman Charles Noell and John Jay Moores over a potential sale of the club in 2014.

But those talks broke down with the Supporters’ Trust – who own 21 per cent of the club and have a representative on the board – concerned about the deal.

However, while some directors are expected to leave the board as part of the shake-up, the Supporters’ Trust will retain their shareholding and maintain their voice at the club.

It is understood that the American group are keen not to lose the connection between fans and decision-makers at the highest level – and the Trust said only this week that they were “open-minded” over a change in the management structure at Swansea.

In an article published on its official website on Tuesday, the Trust said: “Fundamentally, the Supporters’ Trust is solely interested in what is in the best interests of the club and most importantly its fans, both current and future, so if a deal met that criteria then we would be very interested in investigating this further.

“The recent American deal presented very little evidence as to how that deal would benefit the club.

“As a Supporters’ Trust we are open-minded on the issue of a change in the shareholding of the club.

“The majority of the current shareholders have held a stake in the club for 15 years and the make-up of the board has remained largely unchanged for a decade.

“It is unrealistic to think that things will not change in the future, for any number of reasons.”

As well as keeping the supporters onside, the Americans are also keen to utilise the experience of Jenkins as the club prepares for a sixth season of Premier League football.

Swansea virtually guaranteed their safety by beating Chelsea 1-0 at home on Saturday and want to expand their Liberty Stadium home, which has a 20,500-capacity and is the second smallest in the Premier League.

The club has been in talks with Swansea City Council over the last 18 months to buy the stadium and the American takeover could lead to both its purchase and expansion, as well as investment in the playing squad this summer.

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