Swansea’s owner John van Zweden makes a huge profit with sale


In 2002, John van Zweden became one of the owners of Swansea City that nowadays plays in the Premiuer League. Must have been a dream come true, does it?

He describes his live as one great adventure. ‘I just started as a hard working young man that had a great hobby, football. I went often to Swansea and had a penfriend over there. Then Swansea came in trouble and I had contact with five other fans that offer me an opportunity to became owner of the club.’

Who is John van Zweden (1953)?
1981: Take over a  behangzaak van vader in Den Haag.
2002: Buying Swansea.
2010: Swansea to Premier League.
2013: Winning League Cup.
2014: Biography  ‘Behangkoning in de Premier League’.
2015: Documentary ‘Jack To a King’ about Swansea.

The Dutch investor John van Zweden, and Leigh Dineen, formerly the trust’s elected director who bought his own shares for £50,000, both have stakes of just over 5%, now valued at £5m.

The millions to be made by the shareholders who do sell follow £4m already paid to them all in dividends over the past four years – £1m, in effect their original stakes repaid, each year from 2012-15 since Swansea have been in the Premier League. Paid proportionately according to their stakes, Jenkins has received more than £500,000; Martin and Louisa Morgan £900,000; Katzen, Crevoiserat and Davies £400,000 each, and Van Zweden and Dineen around £200,000 each.

The trust, for its 21.1%, has been paid more than £800,000, which it has used to buy new shares and for a “rainy day” fund. Established as a mutual, democratic, not-for-profit body during Swansea’s 2001 financial crisis, with the help of the fan-ownership initiative Supporters Direct, the trust’s members who have provided contributions for the £200,000 investment cannot cash in personally if the trust ever sells.

Cooze, who has told a trust forum he was “pretty damned hurt” at the secrecy of the negotiations, is now seeking to rebuild bridges with his co-directors and safeguard the trust’s position. Levien’s revised suggestion to buy 60% is intended to show the trust a preparedness to work with them, after supporters’ hostile reaction to the proposed acquisition of 75.1% control.

Cooze and the trust’s chairman, Phil Sumbler, say they knew the other shareholders would sell at some point and are sanguine about them making so much money. They mostly want to know whether the sale to Levien and Kaplan, which Jenkins in his official statement said he believed “will help the club progress on and off the field”, will bring actual investment into the club itself.

“There is no point in a deal without money for the club; that would just be a sale for the shareholders’ personal gain,” Sumbler said. He pointed out that supporters’ unpaid work and donations have contributed to Swansea’s remarkable revival over the past 15 years and massive increase in financial value. “The shareholders are mostly lifelong fans, and we have always believed throughout our partnership with them that they have the best interests of the club at heart.”

Source: The Guardian

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