I’ll go to the extreme and declare that Swansea, League Cup Winners, are probably the only proper football CLUB in the Premier League.
The club has a healthy wage bill (only £34m), a strong football philosophy and its supporters are in the center of its operations: The club offers free or subsidized bus rides for the fans and other projects for the fans and by the fans.
Swansea are also the only club in the Premier League with a 99% seat utilisation – meaning it’s losing only £100,000 per year from “empty seats” – unlike Aston Villa or Sunderland, which are losing more than £6.5m per season (each) because they can’t fill their stadiums.
Swansea are probably the only proper football club in the Premier League because they are a club and not a business.
The club is owned by fans and not businessmen, who just pretend they know their fans/customers. You see, the Swans Supporters Trust own 20% of Swansea and the other owners are local businessmen, who are indeed fans of the team and not American entrepreneurs, Russian oligarchs, Arab Sheikhs or hedge-fund investors.
Their aim is not to net profit from the team or enjoy an elevated social status – their aim is to keep the CLUB going and make it stronger year after year.
The Premier League must learn more from Swansea and its sporting and financial success. The high-flying businessmen who run the league must realise that the clubs are not really theirs and that the supporters are not customers but partners. They must realise that football is not a “business” but a social/sporting activity. They must realise that that a team’s success is not for just one individual to bask in but something for the community to be proud about. They must realise that the stadium is not a shop but a place for social gatherings.
They’ve understood all that at Swansea. Now it’s time for British government make it mandatory for clubs to incorporate supporters in the ownership structure. For the good of football.
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