Mike Ashley v Fan Ownership – What Swansea Fans Think
Swansea v Newcastle – Are there another two clubs run along more different lines?
Style of play, ownership, ambition…the list is endless.
Swansea have risen from near annihilation to be a real Premiership force, winning their first major trophy along the way.
We asked Scott Mackay of the excellent Swansea Way blog to tell us his thoughts on fan ownership, Alan Pardew, style of play, Mike Ashley and what makes our two clubs so different.
Swansea’s journey from almost going out of business to the Premier League and Cup success…it must have been a dream?
It’s still a little hard to believe! Slowly but surely though, the idea that we could establish ourselves as a Premier League club is becoming more and more believable. That said, the way the Premiership is going it seems unless you’re chasing Europe you’re fighting relegation – whether that trend continues we can’t say but for a club our size every year spent at football’s top table allows us to build off the field, so that if we ever did get relegated it wouldn’t hit us that hard.
For those who don’t know, Swansea is owned by a number of businessmen who are also fans, plus the supporters own 20% through the Trust. Do you think that feeling of pulling together gives you an extra edge over other clubs?
I think it definitely allows us a degree of autonomy that’s hard to find at other clubs. There’s obviously far less of a need to “please the shareholders”, because the continued success of the club does just that. Hopefully that doesn’t change for a long time to come!
Many fans of other clubs still aren’t aware of Swansea fans significant part ownership of the club, do you think in part that is because the other Premier League owners are keen to play down the idea of co-ownership with fans?
I can’t say I feel it’s something that’s been played down, though it’s perhaps something which hasn’t been championed as much as it deserves to be, in my opinion anyway. That said, when the bubble bursts and football comes crashing down, we’ll be a few steps ahead so I can’t say it bothers me too much!
I know there is somebody on the board representing the fans but in general is it a case of the club being run with the unspoken backing of the supporters which provides a check on decisions being made against the fans’ wishes?
I think in general, given the non-Supporters’ Trust shareholders are all also fans, it’s a case of common sense prevailing. I think you can honestly say that every decision that’s been made for the last decade or so has been made entirely in the best interests of the club, though obviously there’ll be occasions where, with hindsight, things could’ve been handled differently.
Is Newcastle United under Mike Ashley the complete antithesis of Swansea?
Haha! Quite probably. As someone who grew up watching the Swans during a time when we were going through a series of ownership changes, and there was a lot of uncertainty about the direction of the club, I do feel for Newcastle fans. Something needs to give soon, as the current standoff between fans and owner isn’t helping anyone concerned.
Honestly? At present, it’s a bit of a circus. I think if Graham Carr hadn’t pulled so many rabbits out of his French hat (beret?), Pardew could well have found himself out of a job. I like Newcastle as a club, and I hope the current situation is resolved sooner rather than later.
If ran ambitiously, at what level do you think it is possible for Newcastle to compete?
I don’t even think it’s a case of lacking ambition, as I think with the players you’ve had there over the last few years you should have been finishing higher than you have done. If you got a manager in who went about building a system (Pulis, in my opinion, would be excellent for Newcastle) I think in no time at all you’d be a very, very hard team to beat.
Is there a glass ceiling on Swansea’s ambitions, or do you feel you can grow even further?
I think we’re at a point now where growth, if done organically and sustainably, will slow down. We can’t expect to gatecrash Europe so from now on it’s about increasing the standard of our youth teams, and bringing through better and better players drilled in how we like to do things down here. In time, that’ll reap massive dividends.
Our growth over the last decade has been phenomenal, and there are still plenty of areas (mostly off the field) where we’re playing catch up. That means there’s plenty of work still to be done in terms of improving the club, and getting it to a point where we’re set for the future as a sustainable, profitable football club.
Alan Pardew – discuss.
Ah, Pardiola. For seasons now I’ve expected him to get the boot, but he always seems to get a result when he desperately needs one. At the moment that win seems a bit hard to come by though, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen a manager take as much stick as he currently is and then go on to turn it around, winning the fans back over and taking the club forward. It seems a matter of time until he’s sacked so why wait?
Weirdly, it seems the only thing which has saved his job is the fact Ashley said he was going to sack him if he lost the next game, which he did. That seems a weird reason for someone to still be in a job for me!
Newcastle wouldn’t pay Bafetimbi Gomis’ wages to come and be United’s main striker, Swansea have taken him on as back-up to Wilfried Bony. So should anybody be surprised at where the two clubs currently are in the table?
A lot of people were unsure about us this season, and with good reason. There were big changes to our squad, and no-one could have predicted we’d do as well as we have. I think the jury is still out on Gomis, he’s looked tidy but hasn’t set the world alight, and like Bony he’s still waiting for a league goal this season. I’m sure you passed on Bony too if I remember correctly…that’s looking like an oversight now I’d say!
No way. Despite how poor you’ve been at times this season you’ve been unlucky to not pick up more points. I think the sooner you get rid of Pardew the better, but even if you kept him I can’t see you getting relegated.
Is it the fact that you have an established style of play throughout the club that is at the heart of your ongoing success and stability?
I think that’s a good point, but I think that’s just a part of it. We’re careful with the type of players we bring in, and make sure they’ll fit in with the squad in terms of personality, and I think it’s all about having a positive working environment where everybody can just get on with being as good as they can be.
The playing style is a part of that no doubt, and as mentioned getting the youth teams playing like that will definitely stand us in good stead in the future. It’s a sustainable model and you’re seeing more and more clubs do similar things (with varying degrees of success) throughout the league system, because it means you don’t have to sign [relatively] big money players.
What are the relative strengths and the relationship between rugby and football in Wales these days?
Professional rugby is a weird sport in Wales right now. The Ospreys, who’ve traditionally had masses of internationals on their books, struggle to draw a crowd, and the only games which sell out are the big derbies between the South Wales sides.
Football is, compared to the local professional rugby sides, definitely more of a pull for spectators week in, week out, but that said rugby internationals almost always sell out the Millenium Stadium, whereas the national football side have been demoted to Cardiff City Stadium. Bit of a head-scratcher that one, now that I think about it…
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