Wednesday, 28 January 2015

No To External Investment

I may be living in an idealistic world, but why on earth do we need investment?

Swansea City. Regarded the world over as "The Supporters' Club". A club which has even had a film made about it (which I'm still yet to see, granted), and one which has risen from - literally - the very bottom of the football league to sit proudly amongst it's most glamorous names.

All of this could change though. Ongoing talk of investment from third parties has me, and I'm sure many other fans, very, very concerned.  I appreciate that everyone needs money. Of course I do - I'm almost perennially skint. I am so, so uneasy with this talk of investment though that I feel it's worth explaining why.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope

We are built on the basis that hard work and patience will overcome big money and impulse spending. What's more, we are living, breathing proof that this works. Why change now? Because we've stood still for a year or two? It was inevitable that once we reached the coattails of football's high society that we would have to become more patient, so why do we suddenly need a cash injection?

"The directors want a payday"

This is one possibility. If so, then there's little we can do about it and we just have to like it and lump it - sad as that is. I'd be very disappointed though that if it is purely financial, the club would allow 30% of it's shares to be transferred to a previously unknown party, whose sole interest in the club - despite what he and his club-shop-bought baseball cap may say - is financial. 

"The Swans need to expand"

Why? We're fine as we are. Growth at this point will slow down, and that is only natural. We've catapulted ourselves up the leagues in almost unheralded fashion, and the idea that we can continue this growth curve is ludicrous. Previously we were waltzing past fallen greats and clubs around our own size; now the only teams left above us are massive, massive clubs with long established fanbases, all of which dwarf our own. 

A slow-down in financial, and all other growth is natural. However, we will continue to grow with every year we spend in the Premier League and the benefits of this won't disappear overnight. Key should be building slowly and organically - making a financial grab for glory is almost always rewarded with failure.

The extra cash will allow us to compete

Again, why? Why do we suddenly need to be competing at the top level? Do we deserve it? Personally, I'd say it's massively deluded to think we're in a position where we should be challenging the top clubs. We should be happy where we are, as - in my opinion - another five years at Premier League level would bring year-on-year growth, in terms of online fanbase, commercial revenue and much more. If we can get the expansion sorted in that timeframe too I'm confident we'd see our average gate rise. 

There have been issues with ticketing in the past but these seem to have been addressed, and if there are seats available there are a million different ways of incentivising local people to attend. Once there is a capacity for these fans they will start to attend, I'm sure, and to me the idea we need to "compete" to keep fans interested, or to keep moving forward as a club, is massively shortsighted.

There is still plenty of organic growth left to be had. We have by no means maximised the opportunities afforded us by our geographical location, and that is yet another reason I find the idea of investment scary. It's simply unnecessary.

Now that I've talked it through, there appear to be two possible reasons why we could be looking to sell a sizeable stake in our club.

Firstly, it could be purely financial, The directors who are to sell their stakes want some money. As I say, we can't do much about that.

The second reason is some kind of expansion. Be it in marketing, infrastructure (training centres etc) or on the field, if the reason for seeking, or entertaining the idea of investment is down to this second option I want absolutely no part of it. I can't claim to be an economics expert, but I've watched my fair share of football. Investment into a club looking to expand, in all but the few most money-fuelled of cases (Chelsea, Man City, PSG) has failed. Countless clubs have been ruined by short-sighted planning, and I simply can't bear the thought of this happening to our club.

The more I think about this, the more the "why" becomes the crucial factor. If people want money back for their work over the years for the Swans we'd have to accept. They're their shares, so that's their decision. If it's because the club feel the money is necessary for advancement, something has gone wrong at Swansea City. We do not need a sudden monetary push, be it up the league or anywhere else. We need, want, and have a sustainable football club. 

And that's all we should want.