Swansea close to appointing new chairman

11 March 2019

Trevor Birch
Photo: Getty Images Trevor Birch has a long history in English football. Birch has held chief executive roles at both Leeds United and Everton, high-ranking positions at Derby County and Sheffield United and administrator roles at Portsmouth and Hearts.

Swansea have seen a drop in annual income of £60 million since relegation.

Birch’s role will likely be coordinating club’s scouting efforts and cutting huge player wages.

Nikolaj Babis Nielsen contact@offthepitch.com

Swansea City are going to appoint Trevor Birch as a new chairman after the resignation in February of former chairman Huw Jenkins, according to several news reports. 

Jenkins found himself being criticised by the fanbase, both for selling a controlling portion of the club’s shares to American investors and two transfer windows which decimated the squad through poor player sales. On top of this, the club’s financial situation is known to be weak.

In a statement following the resignation of the Swansea chair, the club gave assurances they would be looking for someone to work closely with manager Graham Potter and to “rejuvenate, to bring in fresh methods of working and move forward with a strong decision-making process”.

Financial saviour

If Swansea City do appoint Birch, they will be getting a man who knows his way around football clubs in a difficult financial situation. The 61-year-old former footballer is a chartered accountant with a background at accountancy firm Ernst & Young.

He was appointed as Chelsea’s chief executive in 2002 where he was involved in the 2003 takeover by Roman Abramovich. Birch has held chief executive roles at both Leeds United and Everton, high-ranking positions at Derby County and Sheffield United and administrator roles at Portsmouth and Hearts. He is currently managing director of Duff & Phelps financial advisors.

Which role for Birch?

Chief operating officer of Swansea City Chris Pearlman said last month that the relegation saw Swansea City’s annual income drop by approximately £60 million, and the club held a fire sale of players which almost cut the deficit in half.

Most likely Birch’s role will be to address the other half of the deficit by cutting player wages and finding players to fill the void. The two American investors and owners of a 68% majority stake in the club, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, might see Birch’s role as a chairman as coordinater of the club’s scouting efforts, along with its academy, through to the first team.

Pearlman has been working with manager Potter and head of recruitment Kyle Macaulay since Jenkins’ resignation, but his specialism is in commercial affairs and his role will likely be that of negotiating contracts and the financial side of transfer dealings.