Community club feeling in Swansea impresses students

JOURNALISM PIECE 4
Swansea University will continue to sponsor the West Stand until May 2018: Michael Cleghorn

Swansea University students have been left impressed with the impact Swansea City AFC have had on their community.

The Welsh University of the Year moved to establish a greater relationship with the Premier league side by sponsoring the West Stand for three years until the end of next season, which has led to increased advertising of the university, as seen in EA Sports’ FIFA 15 and more recent editions of the popular franchise.

Journalism piece 4 FIFA 17 picture
Global advertising of the university in FIFA 17: Michael Cleghorn

Both organisations are an important part of the city, and the university’s students have experienced the positive influence the club has on it.

“It seems that the whole community is behind the club,” said 21 year old English student Mark from Bournemouth.

Liverpool fan and economics student Joe, 20, cited the positive impact the club has on local restaurants and retailers, adding, “I think it brings a sense of community… it is something any person can get behind and support and then find others who are the same.”

Arsenal fan and English student Tom, 21, from Peterborough, further agreed, stating that the team brings “a sense of togetherness to the city,” and that “even those who aren’t local may support them as a second team.”

For students, living in Swansea has changed their attitudes towards the club. “In my first year they became a quasi-second team, so I took notice of their results and rooted for them, but the novelty wore off,” admitted Tom.

Mark and Joe’s attitudes towards the team have changed permanently since moving to Swansea in September 2014 and 2015 respectively.

“Before I hadn’t really noticed them but now I would say I am a fan,” declared Mark, who said he follows the transfer rumours and news surrounding the club. Joe suggested that they are now akin to a second club for him. “I now have a level of empathy for the club and the supporters. It is kind of similar to at home in that my main supported club is Liverpool but I also support Plymouth Argyle as they are my local club and I feel like I can support them also as I see no real threat from them towards Liverpool.”

Mark and Tom heaped praise on the atmosphere generated by the Jack Army on their trips to the Liberty Stadium, but Joe is yet to watch a game there as he has “no real desire to go unless it was against Liverpool.”

Despite the university’s relationship with the club, Swansea City have not influenced these student’s academic studies in any way, except for acting as “a way of relaxing and escaping from university work for a day, or even just an afternoon,” according to Mark. This is unsurprising given the non-sporting nature of their courses, but the impact the club has had on the city-wide community has endeared these student’s hearts and many more.

Swansea staff surviving despite relegation fears

Journalism piece 3
Hospitality HQ- All is well behind these windows despite relegation concerns: Michael Cleghorn

Staff morale has not been affected at relegation-threatened Swansea City AFC following a reported loss of £14.6m for the past 14 month period.

Chairman Huw Jenkins moved to clarify the reasons behind this, stating that the sales of key players Ashley Williams and Andre Ayew to Everton and West Ham respectively were not included in this report.

chart
It is not just losses on the pitch that Swansea have had to report: Michael Cleghorn

The Swans are generally in a healthy financial position, but those connected to the club are wary of the affect relegation could have, with Premier League broadcasting deals a key source to many clubs and 81% of Swansea City’s income comes from television broadcasting.

Relegation could lead to structural changes at the club. Aston Villa were relegated last season and approximately 500 staff members were told they were going to be made redundant in the final third of the season. Sunderland AFC are likely to join them in the second tier of English football next season, which shall trigger redundancies staff members were warned of in February. The atmosphere has been described as “toxic”  by staff since plans for redundancies up north were communicated.

Swansea staff members are not concerned over the financial or atmospheric effects of relegation. Michael, a hospitality and match day staff member at the Liberty Stadium, suggested in an interview that the mood was different but dismissed financial concerns.

“In terms of financial perspective, the staff still get paid the same amount and at the right time they get a pay rise, so the loss didn’t really affect us. But in terms of the tension because every time the club believes they should be doing better in the table means many fans don’t renew their season tickets. So I think it affects the fan’s perspectives, I think it affected them the most, but staff? No, it didn’t really affect us at all.”

Despite initially suggesting that on-pitch performances did not affect his working atmosphere as regardless of the result, “the fans still come to buy drinks,” Michael later claimed there was “friction” at the club which altered the atmosphere.

“There was a little bit of a difference, most fans didn’t come to expect a win, just to chill out with friends. They wanted to go and watch the game but the club wasn’t there anymore.”

“The club wasn’t there anymore.” For those associated with Swansea City AFC, they will be hoping this doesn’t apply to the Premier League next season.

An extended version of the interview is available to listen to above.