Leon Britton says Swansea City’s new chairman Trevor Birch is a “football man” and revealed the role the 61-year-old played in helping him re-sign for the club in 2011.
Birch started work on Thursday, filling the role previously held by long-standing chairman Huw Jenkins.
Birch has been given complete day-to-day control of all football and business matters by majority owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien.
A highly experienced and well-respected executive, Birch, a former professional footballer and qualified chartered accountant, intends to use all his experience from chief executive roles at the likes of Chelsea, Everton, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Derby County to guide the Swans back on course.
Birch also played professionally, having spells with Shrewsbury and Chester, having at one stage been on Liverpool’s books.
He first crossed paths with Britton when the midfield playmaker left the Liberty for Sheffield United in the summer of 2010.
The move did not work out as the now 36-year-old had hoped, but he has never forgotten how Birch helped him seal his return to SA1.
Just a matter of months later and Britton was celebrating at Wembley as the Swans reached the Premier League.
“Trevor was the chief executive when I joined Sheffield United, I dealt with him through my contract negotiations,” said Britton.
“I signed the contract, Kevin Blackwell was the manager and he left after two games and they appointed Gary Speed, which was a great appointment for the club.
“He wanted to get the club playing football. Trevor is a football man first and foremost and he wanted the team to try and play football whereas Kevin Blackwell had been a little more direct.
“Personally, it did not go well for me. Gary Speed went to coach Wales, and I spoke with Trevor.
“He was looking to get Sean O’Driscoll in but they ended up with Micky Adams and I just said to Trevor that I wanted to go back to Swansea, that it was the only place I wanted to go.
“It was not working out and I think he could see that, and it would free up the wages for Micky to get someone who suited the way he wanted to play rather then me watching the ball going back and fore over my head.
“So, fair play to Trevor, he helped massively. He could see I was not enjoying my time there and I was missing Swansea.
“He made the deal go through when maybe he could have made it more difficult for me. He made it simple for me.
“He is a former player, he is not just a numbers man. He understands the game a lot and he could see the football style did not suit me and he was good enough to help me go back to Swansea.”
While Birch initially built his reputation in the financial services sector as a senior partner with big-hitting industry leaders such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte, BDO International and Duff & Phelps, his footballing background was regarded as a huge bonus for the club.
And Britton says the new Swansea appointment understands the balance between the numbers off the pitch and the need for success on it.
“I can only speak from my own experience. He does care about football and understands the game, which is vitally important. He will want to help the team and the manager,” said Britton.
“From my dealings with Trevor his knowledge was very good. His contacts in the game are excellent, you only have to look at the clubs he has worked at, and can only help us.
“I spoke to him over text when I heard he was coming to Swansea. I kept in contact with him over the years and I am sure he will do a great job at Swansea.”