Peter Swales

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Peter Swales
Born25 December 1932
Died2 May 1996(1996-05-02) (aged 63)
Manchester, England

Peter Swales (25 December 1932 – 2 May 1996) was a businessman who served as the chairman of Manchester City F.C. from 1973 until 1993. He held a variety of prominent positions within the game of football, including Chairman of The Football Association's International Committee and vice-president of the F.A.[1]

Swales became Manchester City chairman in 1973, with the club in a reasonably strong position and regularly challenging at the top of the Football League with clubs such as Liverpool, Leeds United and Derby County.[2] Swales presided over a general decline in City's fortunes, which was exacerbated by numerous controversial decisions.[3] After two decades, frustration grew, and Swales was ousted by Francis Lee after a long protest by City supporters, famously known as "Forward with Franny".

Manchester City[edit]

As a boy Swales attended William Hulme's Grammar School.

Swales made his fortune in the radio and hi fi business and had also invested in Altrincham F.C., a club which was recognised as one of the best run non-Football League clubs in English football. In 1973, he became chairman of Manchester City, taking over from long-time chairman, Albert Alexander. He inherited City in a reasonably strong position, however there were signs that City's late 1960s dominance in English football was beginning to wane with no trophy since the victorious 1970 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup campaign.

He was blamed for the club's failure to keep pace with neighbours Manchester United after City's late 1960s/early 1970s heyday and various acts of mismanagement such as allowing Malcolm Allison's eccentric dismantling of the side in 1979. Swales was also a prominent figure in The Football Association and some fans believed he stayed on to preserve that status rather than further the fortunes of the club.[4] Swales was known as a ruthless chairmen, even by modern football standards,[5][6] sacking eleven managers in his twenty-year reign at City.[7]

The last interview recorded with him was performed by author Gary James and appeared in the fanzine Bert Trautmann's Helmet.[8] It was quoted extensively in a profile of him in James Manchester: The Greatest City.[9] Swales died just three years after leaving City, on 2 May 1996 aged 63, after suffering a heart attack. He was survived by his wife and three daughters.[4] It was reported Swales was, in the words of Guardian journalist, David Conn: "a broken man shattered by his ousting."[2] A minute's silence was impeccably observed prior to the Manchester City and Liverpool match at Maine Road on 5 May 1996.[10] He maintained his affection for the club even after leaving saying that "the last thing I want to see is for City to go down." The club were relegated less than a week after his death.

Despite City supporters misgivings over Swales and enthusiasm for the new chairman Franny Lee, the club actually went backwards under Lee. Manchester City reached the nadir of their 132 years existence in 1998 when they were relegated to the third tier of the Football League for the first time in their history.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James, Manchester:The Greatest City, pp. 415.
  2. ^ a b "Manchester City: a tale of love and money". The Guardian. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  3. ^ Shaw, Phil (30 November 1993). "Football: The turbulent times of City's main man: The FA international committee meets today with the national team's future direction at stake: Phil Shaw highlights the controversial 20-year reign of Peter Swales as Manchester City's high-profile chairman". The Independent. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  4. ^ a b Hodgson, Derek (7 May 1996). "Peter Swales: Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  5. ^ Kelner, Martin (21 December 2009). "Is there another Manchester City manager in the house?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  6. ^ Ogden, Mark (20 December 2009). "Different owner, same old Manchester City. Why Sheikh Mansour is no different to Peter Swales". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  7. ^ Fox, Norman (24 October 1993). "Profile: Man who wields the axe: Peter Swales". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  8. ^ Bayley, Bert Trautmann's Helmet, Issue 18, pp. 12–18.
  9. ^ James, Manchester:The Greatest City, pp. 413–415.
  10. ^ James, Farewell To Maine Road, pp. 248.
Business positions
Preceded by
Albert Alexander Followed by Eric Alexander
Manchester City F.C. chairman
c.1973 – 1994
Succeeded by
Francis Lee