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Chairman statement on future plans

19 February 2015

Peace responds to media speculation

CHAIRMAN Jeremy Peace has clarified his plans for Albion following recent speculation about future investment at the club.

The Baggies were at the centre of weekend reports that the Club had been put up for sale by its chairman of the last 13 years amid claims that a broker had been appointed to seek foreign investment.

Albion this week sent its Annual Report to West Bromwich Albion Group Ltd Shareholders and the Chairman decided this provided a timely moment to bring supporters up to date with his future plans.

Peace explained: "I said in 2008 that I was open to proposals regarding investment in the club and would not stand in the way of a new owner providing they convinced me their intentions for the club were in keeping with its traditions and values and their ability to deliver on them was realistic. 

"Nothing has changed in that regard. The recent announcement of a new and record media rights deal for the Premier League from season 2016-17 is sure to mean that there is once again huge interest in the brand.

"It was only right and prudent, in my view, that at such a moment we should present the Club to the investment market. I believe it is a sound company – an extremely solid football club with no debt, significant assets, a developing infrastructure and reasons to be confident about the future.

"I have been at the helm for 13 years now and I am proud of what has been achieved in that time. I do not need to remind supporters about the journey we have shared to this point.

"I am happy to continue as we strive to deliver Premier League football whilst growing the Club within our means.

"But equally if there was someone out there willing and capable of taking the club further forward, I would be willing to step aside and negotiate a change of ownership providing it was an investment that was right for the Club."

The financial statement for the Club’s ultimate parent company WBA Holdings Ltd, covering the year ending June 30, 2014, showed Albion remains in robust health. 

It reported consolidated pre-tax profits of £14.7m on an income of £86.8m even though overall staff costs continued to increase, to £65.5m which represents more than 75 per cent of turnover. 

The Chairman added: "The Club continues to fight its ground in an increasingly competitive market.

"The challenge of growing our profile and our support base, to try to keep pace with the advances our competitors make, is one which I feel we tackle with ingenuity and energy.

"As I have remarked before, it gets harder each year and the demands on everyone at the club to over-achieve never diminishes. 

"But it is also exciting and fulfilling when you see The Hawthorns brimming with excitement as it was on Saturday afternoon."

Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion Holdings, which is controlled by Peace and now holds nearly 88 per cent of the club’s shares, is proposing an end to the requirement to hold an Annual General Meeting of the subsidiary Group company. 

It is also seeking to remove the limit on the number of directors who can be appointed and also a removal of the limit to increase share capital by more than 10 per cent annually.

These are moves intended to bring Albion into line with similar-sized private companies. 

Chief Executive Mark Jenkins acknowledged that some independent shareholders will be disappointed to see the end of the annual AGM but insisted it would not distance the club’s senior officers from supporters.

He said: "We now feel we have far more effective ways of communicating with our fans and shareholders.

"The body of independent shareholders represents an increasingly small number of people and, as I have done in the past, I am more than happy to meet with their representatives periodically to discuss any issues."

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