Steve Cooper has admitted time is running out for Swansea City to launch a promotion surge.
The Swans manager has urged his team to make the most of their next three games that are crammed into an intense seven-day spell – or else they will fall too far behind to be considered serious contenders to return to the Premier League.
Cooper’s side are currently in eighth position in the Championship, four points adrift of the play-offs and will host Derby County and Wayne Rooney on Saturday on the back of another sobering prediction from chairman Trevor Birch that there is more cost-cutting to come.
Birch has warned that unless the club can return to the top level then further player sales are inevitable and the downgrading of the club’s academy is still a strong possibility.
That would mean Cooper facing even more obstacles next season than currently and he said: “We’re certainly getting to that stage.
“You get through February, which is notoriously a busy month with a lot of games, and you’re close to countdown then.
“We know we’re in an important period so we very much want to capture that and make the most of it.
“We’ve got three games in the next week, there’s nine points to play for and that can make the difference in a number of ways.
“It’s important that we recognise the present and don’t look back. We’ve got to make things happen now. We’ve got to make sure that we deliver now.
“It’s not about getting to the end of February and seeing where we’re at. We’ve got to make sure we do take it step by step.”
The Swans will continue to have a category one academy in 2020-21 – but Birch also warned they may be unable to retain that status for the academy unless they earn promotion back to the Premier League.
The club’s published accounts show a pre-tax loss of £7m for their first year after relegation from the Premier League.
Re Trevor Birch’s statement today, understandably lots of focus on the finances. But I’m also drawn to the final paragraphs. Confidence for footballers is huge. If you’re going to moan & groan, do it after, not during, the game.
PS – the orange ‘circle’ was drawn by a 3-year old pic.twitter.com/DKlBMnoSb3
— Stuart James (@stujames75) February 7, 2020
“If we had not sold players in the last few seasons, we would have reported significantly higher losses,” Birch said in a statement.
“Next season (2020-21) we will see another drop in our revenue when our final year of parachute payments fall by a further £20m.
“To put our revenue decline in context, for the year ending July 31, 2018, we had a total turnover of £126.8m.
“Next season (2020-21) that will drop to just shy of £30m, and when the parachute payments cease for season 2021-22 then turnover drops to approximately £17m if we are not promoted. That’s a drop of nearly £110m.
“So, it is not surprising that many clubs struggle following relegation from the Premier League and that many slide straight through the Championship and into League One.
“It’s against the tough financial backdrop highlighted above that we have harsh and difficult decisions to make for the future.”
Wales defender Connor Roberts is available to return for Cooper against Derby after recovering from the shoulder problem that kept him out of last week’s 1-1 draw at Preston.
Mike Van Der Hoorn (knee) and winger Jordon Garrick (hamstring) are both nearing a return but will not feature.
Derby will once again be without Tom Huddlestone, who has a calf injury.
Fellow midfielder George Evans is not yet ready, but defender Max Lowe is available after a three-match ban.