Chris Pearlman: Swansea City can return to Premier League under US owners

Chris Pearlman
Chris Pearlman is to take up a new role at DC United but will continue some work for Swansea City

Swansea City's outgoing chief operating officer, Chris Pearlman, believes the club can return to the Premier League under their American owners.

Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan took control of Swansea in 2016, overseeing Premier League relegation in May 2018.

The pair have been criticised by fans for the dip in fortunes and a perceived lack of investment, but Pearlman says their target is the top flight.

"That's without question the ultimate goal," Pearlman told BBC Sport Wales.

"Their hopes are to make sure the club is stable financially, to make sure we have a good infrastructure to move forward and operate effectively, and to do everything they can with those first two things to get the club back into the Premier League.

"I think an important thing when we got relegated was the admission we made that it's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a little bit of time.

"The reality is it is in everybody's interest - supporters, directors, staff, players, Jason and Steve - for the club to succeed on the pitch."

Pearlman says he will "miss Swansea greatly" when he returns to his native USA next month.

He has been seen as the Americans' man on the ground at the Liberty Stadium having been appointed as COO in October 2016, four months after Levien and Kaplan bought a controlling stake in Swansea.

Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien
Steve Kaplan (L) and Jason Levien assumed control of Swansea City in June 2016

The two majority shareholders made regular trips to Wales in the early stages of their reign, but were rarely seen last season.

Nevertheless, Pearlman says they are in "constant communication" with him and Trevor Birch, the man they appointed as chairman in March.

"They care deeply about the club," he said.

"I think one of the reasons they chose Trevor as chairman is because they trust his judgement on a lot of things.

"While you may not see them in front of the cameras here, it doesn't mean they are not supporting Trevor and what we are trying to do.

"I think they have chosen a good leader and they are leaning on him for his expertise and advice. When it makes sense for them to chime in with some ideas, they are certainly eager and willing to do it.

"But at the same time they are not micro-managing the club. I think they would say that's to everybody's benefit. They trust Trevor and I think they are happy with the direction the club's moving in."

Since dropping out of the Premier League, Swansea have offloaded numerous senior players but spent little on replacements.

The shedding of players on top-flight contracts continues, with Jordan Ayew leaving for Crystal Palace this week and the club looking to move Andre Ayew and Jefferson Montero on this summer.

"It's well-documented how difficult relegation is, when your revenue is cut in half and then the parachute payments get lower and lower," Pearlman said.

"We have to continue to adjust, to get some of those bad contracts off the books. That's just part of the process."

A new-look, youthful Swansea side showed promising signs under Graham Potter last season, when they finished 10th in the Championship.

The club were therefore disappointed to lose Potter to Brighton in May, with new head coach Steve Cooper charged with maintaining the momentum built last term.

His cause has not been helped by the sale of star winger Dan James to Manchester United, while doubts remain over the future of striker Oli McBurnie amid strong interest from Sheffield United.

But Pearlman said: "Look at the work Graham started with the team and Steve is continuing to do. The way we are moving the ball, the passing style - I think the fans enjoy that style a lot more.

"We asked fans for a bit of patience with the young players and they have been wonderful."

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper took charge at Swansea City in June

Pearlman is to take up a new role with Major League Soccer club DC United - also owned by Levien and Kaplan - but will continue to do some work with Swansea from afar.

He has been responsible for Swansea's commercial operations and feels the club have made strides forward on that front.

Pearlman believes acquiring control of the Liberty Stadium from Swansea Council last year will benefit the football club in the long term.

He says he oversaw a 40% increase in "partnership revenue" when Swansea were in the Premier League, while he is proud of progress made on "the media side" of the club and with "fan engagement".

"There are a number of successes, but certainly there have been a lot of challenges," Pearlman added.

"Had we stayed in the Premier League it could have been even better, but we are moving in the right direction.

"I think from a business perspective, a lot of the things I was tasked with doing when I came here we've been able to do."

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