Well, yesterday was quite the day. It started – to most fans – with the thoughts of a pre-season friendly against Forest Green and it ended with the Chairman departing and the appointment of a new Chief Executive all within a few hours of each other.
Of course things clearly didn’t move that quick behind the scenes. What the speed of the new appointment tells you is that things have been moving behind the scenes for at least a week if not longer. I’d question the need for the two statements to be separated mind as they could easily have been merged into one – and indeed maybe the Tottenham confirmation for Birch could have been at the same time as well.
Not that all of that really matters as, when the dust settles, things move on at a football club and people come and go all the time whether they be players, managers or, in this case, a Chairman and Chief Executive.
Of course little will be known about the incoming appointment. Everyone will have seen the reaction of the Huddersfield fans when he left (the Football League World article is here) but then again we have seen with player signings in the past the reaction of departing players does not always mean it’s a bad signing.
What is interesting to consider is how all of this came about. Birch was clearly approached by Tottenham and nobody can really blame him for taking on a job at a side that played in a Champions League final less than 18 months ago. Given Birch’s previous appointments though it suggests there may be some tightening of the purse strings at the Premier League club but that’s for them to worry about and not us.
Where though did Winter come from? If Birch had left and we started a process to look for his replacement now then you could almost understand it if he was appointed say in 3-4 weeks time. But it is clear from the speed of the appointment (and the Trust statement) that discussions were taking place last week on the appointment which tells us that he has been hunted out to take on the job rather than applied and won as the best man for the role.
It is unlikely that Birch is involved in the appointment itself although not inconceivable that he recommended Winter for the job. What we do know – from experience – is that the ‘ownership group’ (as they now like to identify as) have little contacts in the game and rely on those they leave on the ground to make their recommendations.
It was rumoured a good two months back that they had asked Keith Harris (not the one with Orville) to start looking to broker a sale of the club so it feels very possible that he was in the middle of this and highlighted Winter as a good alternative to Birch.
His brief will be the same as that given to Birch. Keep the club on a sustainable basis, work within the budgets that are given and in a perfect world return us to the Premier League. Winter does not have the same strength of CV as Birch but that does not mean that he is not able to work within the constraints that will be handed out at Swansea City.
It will be interesting to see how and when all of this panned out. Not so much the Birch departure but the Winter arrival and I suspect that we will never fully get to the bottom of it. The speed in which it is happening (him taking up his position later in the month suggests he has a break clause in his contract at Huddersfield?) is not helpful to us as a club in the middle of the transfer window but thankfully we have done much of our business already. However, it does add a level of instability that we could do without at this time where the balancing of the finances are tough at best – nigh on impossible isn’t far off a real apt description.
Let’s hope for a quieter day today.