New Swansea chairman hints at layoffs after seven years of Premier League expenses: “Our revenues will not support that cost base”

8 April 2019

Trevor Birch Swansea's new chairman
Photo: Getty Images Swansea's new chairman Trevor Birch has in an interview on the club's website hinted at possible layoffs to balance the books.

Swansea’s new chairman Trevor Birch ready to make “hard decisions” and hints at staff layoffs.

The experienced finance professional will not favour any one side of the boardroom to balance the Swansea books.

Peter Høyer ph@offthepitch.com

“Life after the Premier League is never easy,” said Trevor Birch, the new chairman of Swansea in an interview on the club’s website. He was hired in March to balance the club’s books as they faced a £70-million drop in revenue after relegation. 

Birch has solid experience in the financial services sector as a senior partner with accounting industry leaders such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte, BDO International and Duff & Phelps. And when he looked at Swansea’s books, he seems to have known where to begin. 

“Even with relegation clauses in player contracts it is still incredibly difficult to balance the books without removing high earners from the payroll quickly. And, as we’ve seen all too often, that is not easy to do, especially when results aren’t going in your favour on the pitch,” said Birch and added: 

“So, we must return to basics, deal with the legacy player contracts and review our off-field operations which after seven years in the Premier League obviously have grown to support the club in that endeavour.”

Will not favour any one side of the boardroom

Birch has worked in chief executive roles at Chelsea, Everton, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Derby County. And to guide the Swans back on course he intends to cut costs from the club, which has grown used to a Premier League income.

"Unfortunately, our revenues will not support that cost base which has led the club to start a tough consultation process regarding current staffing levels. And it is tough because these people are the heart and soul of the club and, as in all the other clubs that have had to make economies on relegation, they are the ones that do suffer unduly as a result of the huge difficulties in balancing the playing-staff budget quickly,” said Birch. 

The 61-year-old officially took up his position at the club’s helm at the beginning of April.  He has been given complete day-to-day control of all football and business matters by majority owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, and Birch is ready to demonstrate that he is now in control.

“I will not favour any one side of the boardroom. I will establish my own individual views of the different aspects and issues at the club – and I will always try and do the right thing to get things done,” Birch said. 

Hard decisions lie ahead

The experienced former professional footballer knows there is a tough task ahead of him but is not shy of saying, he will make the crucial decisions needed to turn Swansea around financially. 

“There is no hiding from the fact that it may take some time to take the necessary steps to re-balance the books and some hard decisions lie ahead, but we need to do it to ensure the long-term future of this proud football club and its loyal supporters,” said Birch, adding that business changes are part of football.

“Football clubs, even the biggest of them, continually have to reinvent themselves. Football is a constant cycle of highs and lows - and now I want to help build Swansea City back up again.’’