Sports

Swansea in talks with US investors

 Posted by at 1:51 PM
Apr 112016
 
Chairman Huw Jenkins (left) has helped Swansea become a stable Premier League club since promotion in 2011

Swansea City have confirmed they are in talks with American businessmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan about taking a “controlling interest” in the club.

The Swans hope an agreement, reported to be worth up to £100m, will be reached in a matter of weeks.

“We believe we have a proposal which helps Swansea progress both on and off the field,” said chairman Huw Jenkins.

Jenkins and vice-chairman Leigh Dineen will stay and the Supporters Trust will retain its 21% stake and board seat.

Swansea, promoted to the Premier League in 2011, moved up to 12th in the division and secured their Premier League status with a 1-0 win over reigning champions Chelsea on Saturday before the takeover news broke.

The 2013 League Cup winners are largely run by local businessmen and have previously been the target of foreign investors hoping to benefit from the fortunes of the Premier League.

Finance in the Premier League increases from next season as Sky and BT Sport paid a record £5.136bn for live TV rights for three seasons from 2016-17 – with each game costing broadcasters, on average, £10.2 million.

Swansea would like to expand the 21,000 Liberty Stadium, the ground they co-own with rugby side Ospreys and Swansea council

The current board and shareholders have been in charge of Swansea for 14 years, guiding the club from financial ruin and the brink of non-league football to the Premier League.

It appears the board now feels it needs the support of additional investment to help the club grow on and off the field, with the expansion of the Liberty Stadium among the Swans’ priorities.

Who are Kaplan and Levien?

Kaplan is a Los Angeles-based investor who was reportedly interested in buying NBA basketball side Minnesota Timberwolves after founding a capital management company, and is now vice-chairman of NBA side Memphis Grizzlies.

Levien, a former chief executive of the Grizzlies, is managing general partner of American Major League Soccer club DC United as well as an advisor to Inter Milan’s majority owner and president, Erick Thohir.

If Kaplan and Levien’s deal with Swansea is completed, the Swans would become the third Premier League team to share common ownership with an MLS franchise, following Arsenal and Manchester City, whose owners also own the Colorado Rapids and New York City FC respectively.

Have we been here before?

Swansea held talks about a potential sale with another pair of American businessmen, John Jay Moores and Charles Noell, in 2014.

The club’s supporters trust voiced its concern about the prospect of that particular takeover, and negotiations eventually broke down the following year.

Is everyone happy?

The Trust previously outlined its conditions for any additional investment