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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
New stadium gives Swansea lift
Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
BBC Wales business correspondent

A view of Swansea's new stadium
Ready for League One action - Swansea's new stadium
The football season starts on Saturday, and BBC Wales is investigating how Wales' three clubs are financially prepared for another tough campaign.

The first of our series explored changes in Cardiff City over the last 12 months.

Now it's the turn of Swansea City and how a new stadium and a new division are providing the feel good factor after the Jacks won promotion into Division One last time around.

Swansea fans were in full voice when their team played Blackburn Rovers in a pre-season friendly on Saturday at their brand new stadium.

They have a lot to sing about.

Just two years ago the city was in danger of losing its league team altogether, teetering on relegation to the Nationwide Conference and on the brink of financial disaster.

A new stadium will boost their takings. Just look at Hull City - since they built the Kingston Communications stadium they've been getting crowds of 20,000 on some occasions
Professor Peter Sloane

Since then they've actually been promoted a division, made a profit last year and now have an impressive new home. So how have they done it?

Swans chairman Huw Jenkins says the vital ingredient is to ensure that everyone involved with the club has its interest at heart.

"When the fans know that, you can then depend on their support. But it's been hard work," he said.

But they've been fortunate too, as they admit. Three years ago the club's creditors agreed to write off most of the 1.5m they were owed.

That saved them from the administrators. And as for their new 27m stadium at the Morfa, that's been built for them by the local council.

Peter Sloane, professor of economics at Swansea University, says the new stadium should now put the Swans in a good position financially.

He said: "A new stadium will boost their takings. Just look at Hull City - since they built the Kingston Communications stadium they've been getting crowds of 20,000 on some occasions."

'Fantastic facilities'

Swansea have followed the Hull model closely: the ground is shared with a rugby club - the Ospreys - and managed by a separate company which charges the two clubs rent.

Situated in the middle of a retail park, the plan is for shopping and sporting attendance to boost each other.

But what's more important, a stadium or a team? Ken Gorman, sports writer for the Sunday Mirror, thinks in some cases, it's actually the stadium.

"Teams can come and go, but a stadium is forever, or at least for 20 years. The Swans now have fantastic facilities and that could tempt good players to join the club."

But predicting the financial future in football is a mug's game. That's because, according to Leigh Dineen of the Swansea Supporters' Trust and himself a club director, soccer is like no other business.

"If my business was in trouble, the first thing I would do would be to cut staffing costs," he said. "Apart from back room people, you can't do that in soccer - you can't sack the players."

So what can you do instead, I asked. "Just get into trouble," he replied.

Joking apart, he and his fellow Swansea directors say that kind of trouble will be avoided at all costs.

But as they also point out, the rent on the new stadium is twice what it was on their old ground the Vetch - football continues to be an expensive business.

So, unless the fans come along in strength, their great new facilities won't stop the club that plays in white going back into the red.

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