Sport The Julian Winter interview: New Swansea City signings, likely exits and the Americans' end game

18:45  22 september  2020
18:45  22 september  2020 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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Swansea City has a clear identity and philosophy, fantastic facilities at the Liberty Stadium, Fairwood and Landore, along with a big catchment area. While you can’t watch the team in action at the Liberty Stadium or up and down the country, giving you the opportunity to watch games live – with our

Swansea City ’s new chief executive, Julian Winter , will take up his post at the Liberty Stadium on Monday with a ringing endorsement from former Swan Winter was the CEO at Vicarage Road during Rodgers’ seven-month tenure, and the man who led the Swans to the Premier League believes his

Julian Winter's tenure as chief executive of Swansea City has officially begun.

The 55-year-old landed the role shortly after former chairman Trevor Birch left the Liberty Stadium to join Tottenham on the opening day of September.

And having started his new job in South Wales, Winter has given a full interview to selected members of the media on a range of topics including the following:

  • How he got the job.
  • His relationship with the club's American owners, and their "end game".
  • His key aims at Swansea City.
  • The club's financial position.
  • Swansea's transfer business.
  • The academy situation.

Winter officially left his previous post at Huddersfield Town in March this year and was later approached by Swansea's ownership group regarding his current role.

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And it has emerged the chief executive knew American owners Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan prior to their takeover of the club in 2016 having developed a close relationship with Swansea's Director of Business and Legal Affairs Sam Porter.

“I should say I have known Steve, Jason and Sam Porter before the period that they bought Swansea," he said.

“When I left Sheffield United, I was introduced to them by a mutual colleague. I knew of them at that point.

“Since then I have gone off and done other things. We have had an interim dialogue since. When Swansea and Huddersfield were in the Premier League together, we saw each other at shareholders’ meetings and touched base again.

“Sam and I have spoken on and off about industry-related things. We have kept an open dialogue.

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“But they rang me to see what my situation was. They made it clear they were interviewing others – that’s fine – and it went from there.

“When I first met them they were looking at investing in a UK football club. I was never around at the time when they decided to buy Swansea.

“The idea of investors acquiring football clubs and taking them forward – different people have different approaches.

“Their approach is clear to everyone. They want the club to be sustainable. They want the club to be successful. They are not doing anything to make it unsuccessful. They are doing everything they can to make it successful, but they want the club to be sustainable.

“We look across lots of different divisions where clubs get into difficulty by overcooking their expectations and therefore the resources required to take a club forward.

“I think they will continue to be supportive of this club. They will be very supportive of me hopefully doing this job.

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“But we will be clear about the framework within which we are going to operate. We are not going to operate outside of a clear understanding of what the resources are.

“Then it comes down to resource allocation. It comes down to the people within the organisation to build a feeling and a dynamic that takes the club forward another step."

Fans have become disgruntled at the lack of dialogue from Kaplan and Levien, particularly since Swansea were relegated from the Premier League in 2018.

The lack of communication has understandably left the Jack Army concerned over what their intentions actually are, although Winter was keen to quash concerns that the pair are not in it for the long-term.

“They have never given me any indication that they are not," he said.

"They own the football club. I don’t think there’s any intention not to. It’s very clear – get in and get on with the job.”

Having landed the plum role, Winter has taken up day-to-day control of club operations, similarly to how Birch operated during his time at SA1.

He will oversee all club matters, from transfers to finances.

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Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the club financially, with the lack of fans at matches ensuring matchday revenue has plummeted.

It comes after first team players and coaches took wage deferrals earlier this year to ease the financial burden on the club.

But Winter believes the Swans can survive the Covid-19 struggles, in the short-term at least.

"We've planned accordingly," explained Winter.

"I had an initial oversight with the financial director. The club has planned ahead and worked on the basis of not having crowds for a considerable period of time.

"Shareholders understand the picture, and the way they currently perceive the club, it has a really good platform. So there's no panic or risk of not having crowds here for a period of time because they've planned for it."

Player sales and job cuts have been just some of the measures used to reduce costs at the club in recent years.

Although, as things stand, Winter does not anticipate an immediate need for any further cost cutting actions to be taken.

"Not as I sit here today, but who knows what the future brings? The club has done some work, people have taken cuts and deferrals and the club is in a reasonable position in challenging circumstances," he added.

Having overseen Swansea's progress under Steve Cooper last term from afar, Winter believes the club are in a strong position as far as matters on the pitch are concerned.

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The former Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United defender will keep in regular contact with the head coach and Swansea's head of recruitment Andy Scott, particularly regarding transfers.

The Swans have already brought in five players this summer while several stars from last season - including Mike van der Hoorn, Rhian Brewster and Conor Gallagher - have left.

And Winter says he expects further ins and outs in the final weeks of the summer transfer window, although he remained coy on whether or not Cooper will be given transfer funds to spend.

"Every player costs money, whether it's his wages or his transfer fee or loan fee. I would expect some players to come and go," he said.

And when asked if player sales are required before Cooper can further strengthen his squad, Winter responded: "Football plan agreed, I will be supporting that.

"Players may go in the short-term, that's the nature of football. But players will come in. The transition will be finished off until the end of the window. Beyond that we'll be talking what the future looks like."

Such is the Swans' financial state after dropping out of the top-flight little more than two years ago, the club have been heavily reliant on producing homegrown players.

However, prior to Winter's arrival at the club, Swansea's academy status dropped from category one to category two.

It came as a huge concern to the Jack Army who have seen the likes of Oli McBurnie, Daniel James, Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon emerge from the club's youth system in recent years.

However, Winter does not believe the change will have a negative impact on the Swans' ability to produce players for the first team.

"If you look at the reality of the difference between cat one and cat two, there is a massive cost implication to run cat one, and the difficulty of EPPP [Elite Player Performance Plan] it's often dictated to by a number, not by a process," he said.

"My personal belief is that, if you are good at developing players, which it looks like the guys are, whether you are cat one or cat two, there isn't a huge difference, because the geography doesn't change, the facilities are still the same, most of the staff are still the same.

"The academy has proven it can produce players, and the re-categorisation from cat one to cat two, it will still produce players, that's the bottom line."

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