From the club’s creation in 1912, the Swans were a business and registered as a limited liability company. This protected the directors, who were all small local businessmen, from losing anything more than the money they had invested should the club go bankrupt. It also created opportunities for fans to buy shares, not in the expectation of making money but to demonstrate their support for the club.
Football was never profitable in the twentieth century. Its only major source of income was gate money and that depended on how the team was doing and local economic conditions. Profits were spent on wages, transfer fees and the ground.
Often the club made a loss and was dependent on financial assistance from the directors, fans, and the supporters club. Selling its best players was another way to balance the books. In 1974, the club even had to sell the Vetch Field to the council to pay off debts. Even the club’s time in the first division from 1981 to 1983 brought financial problems because of the high player costs and attendances that never as high as hoped, partly because of the recession the area was then experiencing.
Only once the club reached the Premier League did football become profitable for the club owners. This was because of the vast sums television revenue created rather than gate and merchandising money. Yet, even though the shares grew in value and much revenue was invested in new facilities, spiralling player wages and transfer fees meant that money always remained tight.
These records were created by the legal requirements on the club as a company rather than football club.