ARE WE TOO HARSH ON CLUB OWNERS?

Last week the departing English Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said that football fans need “to look at how it treats the owners at some of its clubs” as without them, fans “wouldn’t have a club”.

Harvey said costs across the 72 EFL sides were going up but owners were being “roughed [up] and ridiculed in certain quarters”. “Championship losses are getting bigger,” he said. “We have a business model that relies, just about, on owner funding.”

“Those owners are either benevolent, looking after their local clubs who they have supported for many years, or are investing to try to achieve the big prize that Aston Villa and Derby are going to play for this time.”

Obviously referring to the play-off final. Football finance expert Kieran Maguire calculating EFL clubs “made a loss of £388m last year” – with only 19 of them making a profit. “The league (EFL), as it stands, will distribute more money to its clubs than ever before at about £230m,” said Harvey.

“That will be across all 72 clubs – that’s money that we generate and also money that we get through a deal with the Premier League, which does not include parachute payments.”Yet in the Premier League the top 19 clubs all earned £100m and there was only one club that didn’t – and I think they got £97m – so you’ll forgive me for saying they all got £100m.

“So, 20 clubs, a minimum of £100m – 72 clubs sharing £230m. And, by the way, that’s not done evenly either.

“So, we are reliant on owners and football needs to look at how it treats the owners at some of its clubs.

“Fans not happy about the investment that is going into their club. Trust me, without them [the owners], they wouldn’t have a club.

“Harvey has been EFL chief executive since 2013 and has since left the post. He oversaw a controversial deal for domestic broadcasting rights, which several Championship clubs said left them “gravely concerned”.

The unhappy clubs claimed the £595m five-year agreement with Sky Sports, which was signed in November 2018 and represented a 35% increase on the previous contract, had been done without them being fully consulted.

“After six years [in the role], the league does need to have a look at itself and decide how it’s going to go forward,” said Harvey.

“I think the big challenge is going to be around player wage inflation.

“How do you manage that in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the quality of the product that we all want to contribute to?”

So, is he right and should we have sympathy with our poor owners?In short, yes and no!We can have sympathy with the two examples that Harvey has said and us fans do tend to be pretty hard work and demanding. Our case is different though.

To the credit of our owners, they never hid from the fact that their purchase was a financial investment and that they came here seeking a profit. They were forthcoming with that.   And what they said made perfect sense to us.

Basically, the only way that they would make a profit was if the club was in a stronger position when they sold it to when they left. So, if the Swans were regularly finishing in the top 8 of the Premier League, Europa Football and a 30,000 stadium with a sell-out crowd every week then they would make a profit and we would be happy too.

But what we didn’t really get into is what happens if the plan fails, which is what has happened. And it seems that in that scenario, then its just usual business rules; cut  your losses with as little financial damage as possible and get out of there!

They aren’t poor local businessmen burdened with a club which they love, nor are they foreign investors willing to pump money into the club to see it succeed. They are merely rich businessmen and women who made a bad business mistake which they regret.

They and are now looking to lose as little of their own money as possible while not giving two shits about the effect it will happen to that business after they have gone.

In normal business circles; that’s shit; when the business is a historic football club which is at the heart of the community that it is based then its unforgivable.I do sympathise with many club owners, I actually have sympathy with Mike Ashley but our owners have been immensely naïve and at present don’t even have the decency to tell us what is going on.