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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 13:58 GMT
Nurse aids ailing Swansea
Former Swansea City chairman Steve Hamer
Steve Hamer says he was forced out of the club
Former Swansea City director Mel Nurse has taken over the club's debt in a move that could signal the end of chairman Tony Petty's involvement in the club.

Nurse resigned from the board on Thursday and has moved swiftly to buy the 801,000 debt from former owners Ninth Floor plc.

The former Swansea player, who made 257 league appearances for Swansea in two spells between 1955 and 1971, also recently acquired the club shop and car park.

Alan Wicks, the chairman of Ninth Floor, confirmed the deal on Friday which ended the company's involvement with the club.

"Mel has got the club's interests at heart," Wicks said. "He's a mature and sensible person and I'm sure he's taken on the debt with a plan that has Swansea City's best interests at heart."

I think Tony Petty has misread the script. I don't think he understands the depth of feeling
Former Swansea City chairman Steve Hamer

Nurse was the third director to leave the club's board since Australian-based businessman Petty took over.

Petty's cost-cutting attempts have included an attempt to sack seven players and offering eight others reduced contracts, plus cutting backroom staff.

That move was illegal under Nationwide League rules and invoked the wrath of the Professional Footballers' Association, with Petty having to back down or risk a hefty fine.

Petty still owns Swansea City but Nurse has the option of calling in the debt at any time, should he decide.

Petty would either have to come up with the full 801,000 or move to put the club into administration.

That could conceivably see the club being wound up, but it is believed that Nurse has recruited a consortium of businessmen who would immediately step in and rescue Swansea City.

Forced out

Petty is also under fire from former Swansea City chairman Steve Hamer, who has branded him an "opportunist", while also criticising Mike Lewis for selling the club to Petty.

The club has lurched from one crisis to another since Hamer left the Vetch in September 2000.

"It's very tragic," Hamer said. "This guy Tony Petty is clearly an opportunist but the real culprit has to be Mike Lewis, the guy who actually took over the club from Ninth Floor for a pound."

Hamer was forced out of the Vetch boardroom when he refused to sign the prospectus for Swansea's planned flotation on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.

Neil McClure, the then chief executive of Ninth Floor, took over as chairman of the club before control passed in turn to Lewis.

Lewis bought the club for a nominal 1 in July, at the same time assuming responsibility for the debt of 801,000 which Ninth Floor still held.

However, Lewis has added to the recent uncertainty at the club by revealing that the sale to Petty may not have fulfilled all legal requirements.

Swansea fans march in protest in the city centre
Swans fans demonstrate against Tony Petty

"He (Lewis) effectively handed this club to Tony Petty without, I believe, any reference to the other board of directors," Hamer added.

"I think Tony Petty has misread the script. I don't think he understands the depth of feeling there.

"We were heavily criticised on occasions by the local fans because we attempted to run the club from 200 miles away.

"Tony Petty is based in Australia, which is 12,000 miles away. If I were him I'd get back on a jet very quickly and get back home."

Hamer identified Nurse as the man who could lead a rescue bid to save sickly Swansea, while also leading them into their new home at the Morfa Stadium.

"Mel Nurse lives locally, he adores the club - unlike the present incumbents - and I think without any question of doubt that Mel Nurse will succeed."

The 75m Morfa development will see the current athletics stadium on the site transformed into a 20,000-seat arena, which will be home to Swansea AFC and Swansea Rugby Football Club.

Ninth Floor plc chairman Alan Wicks
explains the financial implications for the club
Former Swansea City chairman Steve Hamer
"This guy Tony Petty is clearly an opportunist"
See also:

22 Sep 00 |  Swansea City
Hamer hits out after Swansea sacking
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