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Swans Chairman Braces Fans For “Not So Good News” On Future Of Academy

Swansea City chairman Trevor Birch has suggested fans should prepare for possible bad news over the future of the club’s academy.

The renowned production line – which has provided the likes of internationals Daniel James, Oli McBurnie, Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon in recent years – could soon be closed down in a bid to cut costs.

Reports emerged last month that the Swans were considering closing their Category One academy at Landore as they continue to seek savings following their relegation from the Premier League 18 months ago.

And writing in today’s match programme ahead of the game against Barnsley, Birch has admitted there is the chance of bad news around the corner, once a review of the complex has been completed.

“A lot has been mentioned on forums and social media about the future direction of our Academy,” wrote Birch.

“As I have stated previously, we continue to keep all aspects of operations, not just the Academy, under review as we adapt to the restrictive financial life outside the Premier League.

“Once we have the transfer window out of the way, I will provide supporters with a further update.

“My aim is to remain open, honest and regular in my communications to supporters, whether it’s good news or not so good news. But we need to get through January and complete ongoing reviews first, before I can properly update you. So please bear with me a little longer.”

Earlier this month, both Swans U23 manager Cameron Toshack and coach Gary Richards left their roles with the club to take charge of Cypriot First Division side Pafos.

Toshack said at the time he needed a “fresh challenge”, although he gave no confirmation that his role could be under threat.

He added: “I have worked with some great people, learnt a lot from the staff and had fantastic support from the fans which I will be eternally grateful for.

“Having worked in the academy during such a successful period, I’m just pleased and proud to see so many youngsters progress into the first team set-up.”

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Relegation at the club halved turnover from around £120m in the final season of the Premier League to around  £60m last season – a figure that will fall further by  £15m next season as the parachute payments decline.

Those reductions are often offset at other relegated outfits by owners who make investments into their clubs, but Swansea pair Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien have appeared reluctant to do any more than try and make drastic cost savings such as selling players and relying on loan deals to replace those who have left.

Manager Steve Cooper, however, had appeared to consider that the academy would play a leading role in developing future players, as raiding the transfer market was no longer an affordable strategy.

Cooper recently said: “We don’t have the finances, it’s not a secret. We’re not going to be like some of our counterparts in January, spending to improve.

“We’re not going to do that – we’re going to be successful through our way. Our way of growing what we have, being unique in the way we want to play and behave in terms of our values on and off the pitch.

“And hopefully after time, that will stand us in good stead to get back to where we want to be.”

If the club were to now announce the closure of the academy, then Cooper may start to question his own future at the club.

Like Graham Potter last season, Cooper has defied most predictions in keeping a promotion challenge going and should he be targeted by other clubs at the end of the season, then the removal of an academy production line might undermine the 40-year-old’s commitment to stay.

 

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