By John Jones
Swansea City’s turbulent off-field fortunes were compounded last weekend as Chairman Huw Jenkins resigned after sustained criticism and protestations from the club’s fanbase.
Jenkins, 55, held his position for 17 years, overseeing the club’s triumphant rise from the bottom of the Football League to the Premier League and Europa League qualification, but had increasingly come under fire for poor decision-making surrounding recruitment.
Calls for Jenkins’ resignation intensified following the Swans’ relegation from the Premier League last season, and gained further traction throughout a dire January transfer window, in which no players were added to Graham Potter’s threadbare squad.
Fans made their feelings towards Jenkins and the club’s owners known at Swansea’s 2-0 league defeat to Bristol City through a series of impassioned chants, which included, simply, “we want Jenkins out”.
This pressure was clearly effective as, just hours later, Jenkins issued a statement to the BBC announcing that he was to step down from his post.
“It comes with great sadness but I feel I’ve been left with little or no option [but] to leave my position” he said.
“Swansea City has been a massive part of my life from a very young age. I have been very fortunate to fulfil my childhood dreams over the last 17 years or so providing direction and leadership at the club whilst moving through the football leagues and competing in the Premier League for seven seasons”.
“Gradually, [however], over the last few seasons, my role as chairman providing such leadership and direction has been eroded away”.
“Finally I can sit back no longer and hide behind my position and stay true to myself and my beliefs”.
Later, Swansea City released their own statement, claiming that Jenkins’ resignation would allow the club to “draw a line under a difficult period in [its] history”.
“Everybody connected with the club appreciates what Huw has done for the club… and there can be no doubting his passion and devotion” the statement read.
“However, it has reached a stage where the way Swansea City has been run on a day-to-day basis has to change”.
“There can be no disguising the fact that recruitment has been extremely disappointing for the past several transfer windows. It has left the club in a weakened position where strong action had to be taken to rectify the situation”.
Swansea’s current turmoil is in stark contrast to the club’s heady days in the Premier League, when their off-field strategy was envied by many, and complemented by exciting football under Brendan Rogers and Michael Laudrup.
Whilst restructuring and increased frugality were to always be inevitable ramifications of the Swans’ relegation to the Championship, such processes have clearly gone too far, with the club’s approach to transfers now bordering on farcical.
Last summer’s window saw 13 players leave the Liberty Stadium in either permanent or loan deals, with star performers Lukasz Fabianski and Alfie Mawson returning to the top flight with West Ham and Fulham, whilst club legends Leon Britton and Angel Rangel also departed, leading to a reliance on youth.
Whilst they could not have expected much, Swansea fans became further incensed at the shambolic scenes in last month’s window, which culminated in a manic deadline day.
With no new arrivals, three Swans players secured late loan moves, with midfielder Tom Carroll, winger Jefferson Montero and striker Wilfried Bony leaving for Aston Villa, West Brom and Qatari outfit Al-Arabi respectively.
However, it could have been worse for Swansea, as the club managed to keep hold of Leroy Fer, heavily linked with Villa, whilst Daniel James’ move to Leeds United collapsed at the 11th hour.
James’ switch to the Championship high-flyers looked certain as he agreed personal terms and passed his medical, but disagreement over the payment of the 21 year-olds loan fee saw the deal break down.
Whilst Graham Potter will be grateful to have James and Fer in his squad, both will have been affected by the events of the window, with the former left out of his side’s weekend clash at Ashton Gate after what he called a “tough few days”.
More pressingly, for a club that may have hoped to regain their Premier League status at the first attempt to be prepared to let five first-team players leave is simply baffling – serious change is needed.
In their statement, Swansea expressed hope that Jenkins’ resignation would mark an “opportunity to rejuvenate and move forward with a strong decision-making process”, and announced that the search for a new “leader of football operations” was underway.
This is certainly positive rhetoric, but whether it will be enough to turn around the club’s miserable fortunes is questionable.
With inactive and unpopular American owners, unsettled players and knowledge of an impending wage crisis following the return of loaned players, the trouble may not quite be over yet at the Liberty Stadium.