Swansea City update | Julian Winter
It’s that time once again where Christmas is upon us, and it’s the perfect time to both reflect on 2021 and look forward to the year ahead.
It’s fair to say that this year has once again thrown up a number of challenges for us all, but, as ever, we continue to help each other through it.
With the rising number of Covid cases across the UK, that has had an effect on football fixtures up and down the country, with clubs and squads adapting to the situation as best they can.
Unfortunately, however, our trip to Millwall on Boxing Day was postponed, while we will play games at the Swansea.com Stadium behind closed doors following new restrictions imposed by Welsh Government earlier this week.
As a club we are devastated for our supporters because you all went so long without football very recently and with crowds being back in stadiums from the beginning of this season, that really gave everyone a huge lift.
Not only that, but festive football is a huge tradition for us here in the UK and for our supporters not to have that this year is really disappointing, but there will be a time when we are back together once again.
The club have automatically refunded match-by-match purchases of general admission tickets, hospitality tickets and hospitality packages and following discussions with the EFL, we were delighted to provide all season ticket holders and seasonal hospitality guests with a streaming code to watch our Fulham and Luton fixtures on our SwansTV Live platform. Supporters are reminded to redeem these codes as promptly as they can.
I know that as a club we will always back our supporters and help them through these difficult times, and it’s that community spirit that I’ve really felt since I arrived here in September 2020. I often see players – past and present – refer to Swansea City as a family club in interviews, and it really is.
The football club embraces the community, and vice versa.
I’m proud of our work in the community throughout the year. Our newly-branded Swansea City AFC Foundation have done some fantastic work, and continue to deliver insightful workshops and sessions which allow our young fans to develop themselves.
As a football club we look to get out and about into the community as much as possible and, particularly at this time of year, we’ve looked to put smiles on as many faces as possible.
We worked alongside the Ospreys, Carolyn Harris MP and Julie James MS to deliver the Everyone Deserves a Christmas 2021 campaign, which provides festive cheer to those who require an extra helping hand in the local community. The fact that several other partners including the South Wales Evening Post, Swansea Council and many local businesses were involved shows that we’re all doing our bit for our city.
As a club, we’ve made a number of visits in the last week or so.
Korey Smith made a surprise visit to young fan Joseph, who is three years old and has stage four neuroblastoma. Joseph is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy, and his family are fundraising money to Help Joseph ‘HULK' smash cancer.
Korey spent time with Joseph and his brother Liam, delivering them gifts to help put a smile on their faces.
Club ambassador Lee Trundle has been busy too, visiting Hengoed Court Care home and handing out biscuits and chocolates to residents. He also delivered food to Matthew’s House, which provides a home in the heart of Swansea for the homeless and others who need support. Over £500 worth of food has been donated to ensure everyone is able to have a Christmas dinner this year. Trunds also paid a special visit to the children’s wards at Morriston Hospital, where he handed over soft toys to bring a smile to the kids’ faces at such a difficult time of year.
Liam Cullen and Daniel Williams also popped into Dylan Thomas Community School to surprise pupils with Christmas gifts, while Morgan Whittaker and Joel Latibeaudiere attended Llys Nini Animal Centre in Penllergaer to hand over pet food, toys and supplies.
We’ve also maintained our backing of the Boot Room, which provide football boots for children whose families were unable to afford to kit out their young footballers, for the next three years.
This year we’ve also set up the Former Players’ Association. That was something I was really keen on establishing here, and it has got off to a really good start in terms of numbers. The purpose of it is to reunite colleagues and friends, provide support and raise funds. It facilitates social activities as well as fundraising events and provide opportunities for ex-players, both men and women, to attend matches and meet other ex-players. Alan Curtis, Leon Britton and Lee Trundle are the key figures in the FPA, and we look forward to welcoming more former players into the association in 2022.
Another area which I feel is very important is communication. In my regular statements on the club website and digital match day programme, I aim to be insightful, open and honest, and I hope you’ve found them to be just that.
I’ve also attended the club’s fan forum, structured dialogue meetings, as well as meeting the Disabled Supporters Association. All of which really gives supporters a really good opportunity to pass on their thoughts and feelings about all aspects of the club, and it’s been very helpful to us. It also allows us to speak open and honestly about certain aspects of the club directly to supporters. This year we have also continued to hold clear dialogue with the Supporters’ Trust.
I am in regular contact with the ownership group, which also leads me onto my next point.
Jake Silverstein is currently with us in Swansea after flying over from America. Jake, who is part of the board of directors, is spending a month here with his family and is fully immersing himself into life in the club and city.
With the travel restrictions in place since he joined the board last year, Jake was keen to fly here as soon as possible, and this has been an opportunity for him to meet staff, the squad and as many people connected with the club as possible.
There have been some big changes within the club this year, with Mark Allen joining as academy director in January, before being promoted to sporting director in August. Following Andy Scott’s recent exit, Mark is working closely with head coach Russell Martin in relation to player acquisitions and departures as the January transfer window nears.
Russell, of course, was appointed as head coach in August after Steve Cooper left the club the previous month. Steve led us to the play-off final back in May, but we fell just short against Brentford at Wembley.
Since Russell’s appointment I’ve heard great feedback from supporters on the style of play, and they were clear in the sense that they understand we’re on the start of a journey here with a lot of hard work to do. I often hear players talk about how they enjoy this style of play – and the challenge that comes with it – and that’s always pleasing to know the players are enjoying what they’re doing on the training pitch and on match day.
Knowing that supporters are fully on board with what you’re looking to accomplish is a huge bonus, and I’ve quickly realised that here. The support we get up and down the country is incredible, and no matter what the result, your backing always shows just how much Swansea City means to you.
That backing continues with the fantastic response we’ve already received with regards to season ticket renewals. The early figures have been very promising, as too have the amount of fans who have opted to take up a half-season ticket for this campaign – further proof that you are enjoying watching Russell and the team.
With that said, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.