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The first step towards ownership change?

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It is never a quiet day at Swansea City but last night’s confirmation that the records had been filed at companies house of the resignation of Steve Kaplan as a director, almost two weeks after the decision was ratified at a board meeting of the club.

The same meeting saw the appointment of Julian Winter, Sam Porter and Gareth Davies as directors of the club marking a significant change of the board at the club – the most significant since the sale of the Swans back in 2016.

Add to that the current board members – Romi Chaudhari, Bobby Hernreich, Stuart McDonald, Huw Jenkins and Martin Morgan and you now have an eight man board which has forced the change of the articles of association which previously said that seven was the maximum that could serve.

It had long since been a “known fact” that Levien and Kaplan would happily like out of the club.   It was reported some time back that they had instructed Keith Harris to find them a buyer and it was also speculated that the appointment of Trevor Birch was done to take control of the club finances and possibly prepare the club for a sale with Birch having done similar at some of his previous clubs.

The onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic though slowed that down significantly with the club facing a financial blackhole due to loss of revenue both from matchday gate receipts and sponsorship but also season ticket sales being refunded as the impacts were felt far and wide in the community.

With players not being at the forefront of wanting to take their own pain then it was tough for the fans and a huge impact on the club.  An impact that could, of course, still see the sale of Joe Rodon in the next week or so to try and bridge some of the gap that we have.

Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien – on their way out?

In came Jake Sliverstein around a month or so back with what was said to be a “seven figure investment” (rumoured to be £5m) with the option to convert this into shares at a point in the future.   A figure that was reportedly matched by the majority ownership.

It now makes you wonder if we are heading down a road where Silverstein is heading towards ownership of the club.   He already is co-owner of MLS side Houston Dynamo and NWSL Cup winners Houston Dash and believed to be a wealth individual.

We also believe, from what we heard when Keith Harris was asked to find an owner, that Kaplan and Levien (and the rest of their investment partners) were prepared to take a hit on their money over the last four years to relinquish their sale which suggests that maybe the £5m is just a down payment as part of a long term plan.  A long term plan that could have taken a second step with the resignation of Kaplan a couple of weeks back.

Jake Silverstein on Linkedin

Kaplan himself was always thought to be the main controlling interest behind the consortium.  Although maybe the more silent one of them in terms of the public face he always appeared to be the decision maker – certainly from personal experience I would back that up – even if he wasn’t the communicative one as far as day to day involvement went.  Taking a step back from the board even if it is for “fresh ideas” maybe therefore goes against the grain on the way the four years have been and therefore adds weight to the argument that we are closing in on a sale but already have a potential new owner in situ.

Julian Winter and Gareth Davies

Behind the scenes as well there is still a legal challenge to the sale of the club in 2016.  The Supporters Trust are still pursuing a legal avenue over the way the sale was conducted with potential claims against both sellers and buyers which could – ironically – give them an advantage if there is to be sale and you would imagine that their legal team is keeping a close eye on these developments accordingly.

A statement from the Trust this morning following confirmation of the departure of Kaplan read “Despite our requests, we have been provided with no information as to why he has resigned, or whether this represents a change in the ownership structure of Swansea Football LLC

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“The appointment of Sam Porter, a long-time legal representative of the majority owners, would seem to suggest there is no change in that ownership structure and that Steve Kaplan, despite this change, very much remains the key decision maker amongst the majority owners.  Without any reason being communicated or any visibility, we cannot say anything more.”

So quite how this plays out in the longer term now remains to be seen.  What we have is significant change in the boardroom, an increase in the number of directors (forcing a change in the articles) and a new investor for the first time since four years.   Coupled with the resignation of the ‘decision maker’ from the board.  For me that all points to an overall ownership change coming up and that is where I think Mr Silverstein’s involvement becomes more obvious.

Time will tell.

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