Leon Britton relinquishes sporting director role
Swansea City legend Leon Britton has stepped down from his role as Sporting Director to sample some time out of a game that has dominated his life for the last 30 years.
Britton, 37, was initially appointed as Advisor to the Board by the then new chairman Trevor Birch after announcing his retirement as a player in May 2018 with 536 appearances to his name over a 16-year period with the Swans.
The former midfielder played a role alongside Alan Curtis supporting Birch in appointing Steve Cooper as head coach and Andy Scott as head of recruitment before being promoted to the club’s first Sporting Director in September 2019 as the club continued its rebuilding process following relegation from the Premier League.
“I’m obviously disappointed to leave,’’ confirmed Britton. “But the time is right for me to take a break, spend some quality time with my family and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of a ‘normal’ life.
“From the time I joined Chelsea as an eight-year-old, moved to Arsenal at nine and became a full-time apprentice with West Ham at 16, football has dominated my life.
“I was always going to take some time out when I finished playing, but Trevor (Birch) asked me to help him in his restructure of the football side of the club when he arrived; a task that escalated following the departure of Graham Potter to Brighton.
“I said I would help because I love the club, always will, but it was always my intention to step back once things had settled down, which it has following the arrival of Steve (Cooper) and Andy (Scott).
“I’ve enjoyed the role and it has given me a real insight into how a football club operates behind the scenes. It’s been a great experience and I’ve learnt a lot from Trevor and Andy; they’ve been a massive help, together with Steve (Cooper) and I would like to thank them for the opportunity
“But the job is 24/7, all-consuming, and now is the time I have to keep the promise to myself and my family to take a break from the game after nearly 30 years.
“I will keep in touch with the club and help wherever I can because the Swans and the fans mean everything to me. I really hope it’s not the end of my close relationship with the club and I can come back in some capacity sometime in the future.’’
Britton played in all four divisions for the Swans after arriving, initially on loan, from West Ham in 2002, and helped the club escape relegation from the Football League in 2003. He also spent time on the coaching staff under former manager Paul Clement, plus two games as the club’s caretaker boss and a season as club ambassador.
His contribution as part of the club’s senior management team drew huge praise from the Swans chairman.
“We are all sorry to see Leon relinquish his role,’’ explained Birch. “He has made a huge contribution in helping to restructure and drive the football operation forward.
“While he always wanted to take a break from the game, he didn’t hesitate in agreeing to my request to help out when we needed his knowledge, intelligence and passion for the club. I was hoping he may have changed his mind over the lockdown period, but he is focussed on taking a break from the game and we must respect that.
“He has really impressed me over the last 18 months and is respected by everyone at the club. He is an icon of the club who typifies what Swansea City is all about and I’m sure his relationship with the club is not over. The door will always be open for him.’’
Everyone at Swansea City would like to thank Leon for his hard work and wish him well for the future.
The Britton Success Story
Leon Britton was born and raised in London, but his association with Swansea stretches back to 2002.
Once the most expensive schoolboy in British football when Harry Redknapp paid £400,000 to take the Lilleshall graduate to Upton Park from Arsenal, he was signed by Swansea manager Brian Flynn on loan from Premier League West Ham in December 2002.
The Swans were struggling at the foot of League Two at the time. But Britton helped the club secure their Football League status with a vital 4-2 final-day victory over Hull City that included the midfielder winning a crucial penalty.
Britton was signed permanently that summer following contributions towards his wages from the fans in a Supporters Trust initiative labelled 'The Battle for Britton'.
The popular figure - who played under 11 permanent and two caretaker managers during his time at the Vetch Field and the Liberty - went on to win promotion to League One in 2005 and then the Championship in 2008 before leaving for Sheffield United as a free agent in 2010.
But he returned under Brendan Rodgers six months later with current Swans chairman Trevor Birch – who was CEO of Sheffield United at the time – sanctioning his return to the Liberty.
Britton went on to help the Swans win promotion to the Premier League with a play-off final victory over Reading at Wembley. He also featured in the club's Football League Trophy win in 2006 and the League Cup triumph in 2013, playing in the run to the Europa League last 32 the following season.
When he retired in May 2018, he had firmly established himself as one of the Swans’ greatest ever players.