John Williams addresses supporters ahead of 2017
ON behalf of the directors, players and all the staff at West Bromwich Albion, I would like to wish our supporters a happy new year in the hope that they have enjoyed the festive season thus far.
Naturally, we shall be doing all we can to ensure 2017 gets off to the best possible start with victory over Hull City at The Hawthorns in another hugely-important Premier League fixture.
Beyond that comes our collective ambition for the Club to continue its progress on and off the pitch and ensure it remains a competitive force within what most concede is the toughest domestic league in world football.
For Albion fans, 2016 was a tumultuous year dominated by a change of ownership following the long and successful guidance provided by the former owner and my predecessor, Jeremy Peace.
Now it has fallen to me as Chairman to continue to lead the progress which has enabled Albion to establish itself within this ferociously-competitive division.
We must do so while tackling the challenges of transition which have inevitably followed the departure of one, firmly-established regime and the arrival of a new order.
Next week, our new Chief Executive Martin Goodman formally takes up the reins while we hope to be in a position soon to confirm other significant recruitments which I believe will give the Club fresh impetus and new ideas.
That is never a bad thing in any organisation but I suspect the fresh faces on which our supporters will be focused are any added to the playing squad during this January transfer window.
As our Head Coach Tony Pulis has made clear and I can only re-emphasise, our target now is to do all we can to recruit players who will be immediate first-team selections. We are not of a mind to do deals simply for the sake of adding to numbers and if those deals are not there, we will keep our powder dry.
It is far from easy, of course, because the higher the grade of footballer you pursue, the greater the competition. But those are our ambitions and we will do all we can to realise them.
Giving Tony the tools to continue the progress on the pitch which we have seen over 2016 will be one of the key factors in another of our prime targets – to increase attendances at The Hawthorns.
The drop in numbers is an obvious a cause of concern and already the subject of much discussion between Martin and myself. Our new CEO will have as a priority what might be done off the pitch to help to tackle this.
But to the supporters who have stood through the wind, rain and shine of another year in the life of West Bromwich Albion, our sincerest thanks.
Yes, there have been disappointments but I think they would agree there have also been some genuinely encouraging and exciting signs of a team ‘on the up.’
We shall do all we can to keep it that way.