South West Wales

Ex-Swansea City directors' £100k unfair dismissal payout

Steve Penny (l) and Don Keefe

Two former directors of Swansea City FC have been awarded more than £100,000 in compensation after being unfairly dismissed by the Championship club.

Steve Penny and Don Keefe lost their place on the Swans' board when the then-Premier League side was taken over by US-led consortium in 2016.

A tribunal ruled in May the club did not properly consult with the men about plans to remove them as directors.

Mr Penny was awarded £30,000 and Mr Keefe just under £79,000.

The two played a key role in helping the club in the wake of Tony Petty's ownership and were involved in major decisions such as the move from the Vetch Field to the Liberty Stadium in 2005.

However, following Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan's purchase of the club in June 2016 it was decided that only shareholders would remain on the board.

Neither Mr Penny nor Mr Keefe held shares and the tribunal heard the pair were told they would have to resign as directors because of Premier League rules, but no such regulation exists.

At another meeting the following month the pair discovered directors with less than a 5% stake in the club would have to resign from the board as a condition of the club's sale, they said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption (l-r): Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, owner Steve Kaplan, shareholder Martin Morgan and owner Jason Levien

Tribunal documents showed it was "not in dispute" the takeover could be at risk if Mr Penny and Mr Keefe did not quit.

The men alleged they considered that to be a "direct threat"; something club officials strongly denied.

Mr Penny resigned on 9 August, with Mr Keefe following nine days later.

Both men argued their departures amounted to constructive dismissal.

The tribunal ruled the club did not properly consult with the claimants about plans to remove them as directors; something which was described as "substantively unfair".

Allegations of age discrimination were rejected.

Following the ruling, Swansea City said it recognised that some of its "procedural issues were not fully in line with employment practice".

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