A Statement From Phil Sumbler Re: Supporters Trust Tuesday, 14th Nov 2017 18:00 by Phil Sumbler
It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I have stood down from my position as Chair of the Swans Trust.
Over recent weeks and months it has become clear to me that the direction the board is taking is different to the direction in which I would like to lead it and therefore it has become necessary for me to formally offer my resignation to the Trust board. It is only right for the Trust as an organisation to be led by someone who believes in the direction that they are taking which unfortunately is something that I do not at this point in time.
I have been immensely proud to lead the Trust board for more than 11 years during which we have seen some of the greatest highs that our football club has ever experienced. Promotion to the Premier League, a League Cup win and our European adventure that followed created memories that will live with me and my family for many years to come. Whilst I make no effort to try and claim credit for the football side of things I do firmly believe that the Supporters Trust played their fair share in that success and I am proud of my part within that.
The last eighteen months or so have been testing times for the club both on and off the pitch. In particular the time that followed the sale of the club and an incredible amount of work was placed into trying to forge a relationship with the new majority shareholders. This would have been much easier had we been involved in discussions regards the sale at the early part rather than at the very end and that placed the organisation in a position that needed much work to try and find a way forward.
I was one of those who invested many hours in trying to make that relationship work through many meetings, phone calls, emails and much at the expense of quality family life. That is not intended to be a look for sympathy, I (we) did so because I (we) firmly believed in what we were trying to achieve and that was ultimately the best for the football club. It led to the Trust recommending a deal back in the summer to sell some of our shares and move forward with a working relationship.
I will say that the deal was not perfect and that it was not a reflective deal of what we could/should have got had we not been overlooked more than twelve months previous. However, the reasons of the Trust board to recommend the deal were based on a desire to work with the majority shareholders and form a business partnership that would be to the long term benefit of the football club.
Since the deal was approved by an overwhelming majority we have worked to try and pull that deal through to fruition. However, some of the detail provided has placed me in a position where it is not a deal that I – as a Trust member – am comfortable with and it is my personal belief that it placed the Trust in a positon where the working relationship with the majority owners had broken down.. This is not a view shared by the majority vote of the Trust board and has led to us taking the direction that I referred to earlier that I disagree with. I do though respect the structure of the organisation in taking collective decisions and that is why I have decided to resign.
What I do believe though is an earlier reference to the Trust needing to be led by someone who fully backs the direction and right now that person is not me. It is clear from recent meetings that the board wish to continue discussions around the share sale and I wish them luck in those discussions and hope that the end result is the one that they desire.
It is almost 20 years since I became actively involved in matters concerning Swansea City Football Club. I ‘blame’ my good friend Keith Haynes for my initial involvement during the days of Silver Shield. Keith was the first person to open my eyes to the difference that supporters taking an interest can make and from those early days I retained many of the beliefs that I have now. I will retain a massive amount of pride in the part that I played personally during the battle with Tony Petty and the eventual return of this football club to local hands.
I became involved fully with the Trust in 2005 as I wanted to play a further part in the organisation and I hold my head high that, in my time with the Trust, I have managed it to the best of my personal ability and, despite accusations to the contrary, I know that I had no knowledge of the current sale prior to it being closing in on completion and held all discussions with the majority shareholders with professionalism and dignity that probably goes beyond the treatment that we got.
During the last two years in particular I – amongst others - have been the subject of personal (and collective) abuse from people who disagreed with the stance taken by the Trust, or even myself personally. Disagreement and criticism came with the job, I knew that when I took it on, however there were times when lines were crossed and the impact of that should never be underestimated. During all of that though I like to think that I held my head high, never reacted in kind and explained my position (and consequently that of the Trust) to anyone who wanted that discussion in a constructive way. And never did I ask people to agree, great discussion but no dictatorship.
In terms of the Trust I wish them all the very best for the future and I hope that over time we see some really strong people stand up and try to make the difference, the same as I did. I promise you it’s not an easy job and it is much easier looking in from the outside then it is from the inside but trying to make that difference is absolute key and something that I have always encouraged people to do.
For me personally I look back over my time with the organisation with great fondness but tinged with sadness caused by one collective decision to exclude the organisation from a share sale… Had that collective decision been taken in a different avenue then I firmly believe we would be in a very different position both on and off the pitch.. I have made many friendships over my time, many of which I hope continue going forward.. Ultimately though I have to do what is right to my beliefs and that is to leave the organisation and return to be that person from the outside looking in.