A look back at the most recent meeting of the fans’ group
DATE OF MEETING: Wednesday, September 2
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: 32 members were present at The Hawthorns, with apologies from joint-Vice Chair and two other Assembly members.
ITEMS ON AGENDA:
• Q&A WITH RICHARD GARLICK ON THE SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW (1)
• ALBION ARCHIVE (2)
• THE HAWTHORNS (3)
• TICKETS (4)
• ANY OTHER MATTERS (5)
• NEW MEMBER ELECTIONS (6)
• DATE OF NEXT MEETING (7)
1. The Albion Assembly got the opportunity to quiz Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick (RG) on all matters including the club’s transfer window activity.
Garlick conducted an 80-minute Q&A just 24 hours after the window had closed and inevitably there was a strong focus on the much-publicised attempts by Tottenham Hotspur to sign Saido Berahino.
He provided a detailed and thorough account of events from the first initial enquiry in mid-August – revealing Albion would have received just £3million up front as per the terms of Tottenham’s first bid - through to the fourth offer received in the final hours of transfer deadline day. RG stressed Albion did not want to sell Berahino, while in addition, neither the offers nor payment structures on offer were acceptable and the club were also left with no chance to get a replacement in.
In response to a question from the room, RG discussed last summer’s addition of Brown Ideye and the role of the recruitment department. He went on to say the Head Coach has always had the final say on signings, with only a slight change in emphasis under Tony Pulis (TP) when it comes to scouting. TP is at the forefront although the club still have a backroom of scouts and a database of knowledge that he interacts with to make decisions together.
One Assembly member asked about the recent sale of Joleon Lescott, to which RG responded that TP wanted to try and bring in younger players and that the deal was a good one for everyone involved.
Asked about a perceived lack of incomings and outgoings in the closing stages of the window, RG responded that the club had spent £36m – making it the most ever spent on transfers in a calendar year (£40m) – while the wages to income ratio is the highest in the Premier League. RG added it is not a simple process to offload players who have contracts.
Regarding the departures of Liam O’Neil and Adil Nabi, RG highlighted the gulf between Under-21 and Premier League and stressed the football-focused deals were right for both players, with Nabi’s loan move to the Indian Super League not commercially driven. He added it was not just about playing for Albion but also getting a financial return if they cannot, and he was confident the club have pathways in place to bring through what is a really promising set of young players.
Asked the latest on the proposed takeover, RG stated talks had finished with the identified party who had been given exclusivity and the process was suspended, with no other parties involved.
Finally, asked about potential areas to increase turnover, RG stated the matter was one of several to be discussed at the next board meeting in late September, including growing the fanbase domestically and internationally.
2. One Assembly member presented an idea based around an ‘Albion Archive’ which would collate a collection of Baggies memorabilia on a single digital platform. A group of three Assembly members have volunteered to work alongside Albion Publications Editor Dave Bowler as a sub-group exploring the concept.
3. Attention turned to The Hawthorns and suggestions made at a previous Assembly meeting to refresh the appearance of the stadium. Chair Martin Swain (MS) admitted these proposals were unfortunately a casualty of the club’s takeover discussions. MS stated there remains a desire to realise the suggestions and the issue will be raised at the next board meeting.
4. Two ticket issues were raised, one concerning the allocation of executive travel tickets for May’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth and the other regarding the collection and updating of loyalty points. MS advises he will refer enquiries to Ticket Office Manager Jo Barr and respond at the next Assembly meeting.
5. MS confirms the Fanzone will be launched for the club’s forthcoming match against Southampton. Assembly members agree the pre-match music and big screens ahead of kick-off are much improved. One member asked for the club to review security procedures in the Stadium Megastore following a recent incident he was made aware of. Another also asked how the Club can justify selling infants shirts for £40. MS will look into both latter matters and advise at the next Assembly meeting.
6. Joint-Vice Chair led discussions regarding the election of two new members. It was decided The Assembly would recruit from the reserve list put together following the initial round of applications and not activate a fresh process.
7. Next meeting: Wednesday, November 25 (7pm for 7.30pm start).