Club News

Albion Assembly Meeting Minutes | July 2023

An image of the West Stand at The Hawthorns

The minutes from the latest Albion Assembly meeting can be found below.

Albion Assembly (AA) Meeting – The Hawthorns.

Thursday, July 6, 2023 – 7pm.

The following minutes are a general summary of the meeting and contain no direct quotations from those in attendance.

Club staff in attendance: Managing Director, Mark Miles (MM), Director of Communications, Ian Skidmore (IS), The Albion Foundation Director, Rob Lake (RL), Head of Marketing, Rachel Rankin (RR), Supporter Liaison Officer, Cindy Joyce, and Senior Communications Officer, Sean Watts.

Apologies: Spiro Marcetic, Chris Jones, Rebecca Collings, Martin Grange, Chloe Lane, Lizzie Hayward, Carl Burkitt, Shin Aujla.


Ian Skidmore opened proceedings by welcoming members, reading the apologies and introducing the club staff who were in attendance. He also acknowledged recent changes to job roles before introducing Mark Miles.

MM began by thanking previous Chief Executive Ron Gourlay and setting out his intentions to follow in his footsteps by attending every Albion Assembly meeting going forward. After giving a bit of background on himself, he outlined his plans for the future.

His philosophy centred around understanding the challenges the football club faces, but wanting to implement a ‘one badge, one club’ approach and cultivate a togetherness in all internal departments, along with the Academy, the Foundation, the women’s team and the supporters.

Lastly, MM committed to continuing to engage with supporters’ groups and giving fans a voice.

The Albion Foundation

MM & IS handed over to Rob Lake, who updated the group on Foundation matters. He addressed the closure of the Regis Academy, expressing his sadness and disappointment that no additional funding was received due to a low number of pupil referrals.

But RL wanted to put on record the brilliant efforts put in by staff members during the last two years, praising the fantastic progress they made in helping young people with difficulties, as well as referring to a glowing Ofsted report they had been given. He promised that the Foundation would continue to do important work in Cyrille’s name at the site of the school.

Away from the Regis Academy, RL talked through the Foundation’s new ‘go local’ strategy, where they aim to work with near-by community and faith groups to address health, wellbeing and other general issues. He said he was excited to work closely with the club under the ‘one badge, one club’ banner.

Finally, RL gave an overview of further positivity for the Foundation, which included three powerchair players being called up to represent England at the World Cup in Australia, and a special mention to blind player, Eesa Amjid – who had been with them since the age of nine and recently scored his first England goal. He also offered a warm welcome to new women’s Head Coach, Siobhan Hodgetts, and her backroom staff, referencing their strong connections to the Foundation and wishing them the best of luck.


MM addressed the topic of ownership, revealing Guochuan Lai had confirmed to him that he was open to external investment – either for part, or all, of his shareholding. He stated there was interest in the football club, though he could not speak of any specifics, and that any discussions would be under a strict non-disclosure agreement and at a group level above the football club.

Members again invited Group director Xu Ke to attend a meeting of the Albion Assembly and aired their frustrations that he had not yet done so.

Regarding vetting potential investors, MM talked about the EFL’s new and enhanced Owners and Directors Tests, while saying there is an expectation the club itself would do its own due diligence, too. He assured members that the new EFL tests are stringent and more enhanced than previously.

MM was asked for an update on the £4.95m loan to Wisdom Smart Corporation Limited, saying he believed it would be paid back but could not give a timeframe.

Football & Governance

The meeting moved on to football matters, and MM began by discussing the men’s team. He talked through how the new structure worked – explaining that Ian Pearce has day-to-day responsibility at the training ground and continues to strengthen his already strong relationship with Carlos Corberán, while he has more of an overview role.

MM stated the three of them had gone through the club’s requirements for the transfer window, and that everybody was on board with their plans. He said he was being transparent with Corberán and Pearce at all times, and that they were embracing the challenge.

Discussions were had about the need to reduce the wage bill now parachute payments were no longer being received, and MM spoke about Corberán’s desire to move some players on and bring others in. He addressed the departure of Dara O’Shea, and how a sale early into the transfer window had strengthened their hand in any future negotiations.

Greater use of the loan market is also a priority this summer, added MM, while acknowledging that sort of business was normally completed later in the window. He confirmed they all wanted to build a competitive team while remaining financially stable.

Furthermore, the recruitment and scouting strategies were discussed, and it was reiterated that the MSD loan money is for club operations.

After taking follow-up questions from members, MM switched attention to the women’s team and confirmed the process of moving them over to the club’s domain was almost complete. He affirmed that they had an integral place under the ‘one badge, one club’ approach.

He described how the women’s first team will operate under the football club, and the ETC will operate under the Foundation. MM acclaimed Siobhan’s passion and explained that he expected this coming season to be one of transition. He added work was being done to announce their home venue for the 2023/24 campaign, and confirmed more matches are due to be played at The Hawthorns.

On the Academy, MM complimented all of the staff who worked to achieve Category One status. He reiterated his confidence in Richard Stevens and his team, and said Corberán is looking at the younger players at the moment – indicating the Championship’s increase to nine substitutes may also help their development.


MM said the club had sold more than 16,000 season tickets so far, and that they were potentially on course to achieve their highest figure in the last 10 years. He spoke about how touched Corberán was by the support shown to him and his team despite the tough times many people are facing.

It was also confirmed around 4,000 of the season ticket holders were for supporters aged under-17. This, he believed, proved the plans put in place to help bring down the average age of Albion’s match-going fans were working, which was positive for the future.

MM added that seasonal hospitality sales were also going very well, and he was pleased with sales for the two away kits. He explained the more modern design choices were done with younger supporters in mind, and confirmed the new home kit would be released shortly.

Members asked about capitalising on the influx of younger supporters by reintroducing Junior Baggies. Rachel Rankin said that the club are hopeful of launching a similar style of membership in time for the 2023/24 season, with a full update to come at the next meeting.

The issue of games being moved for TV was also raised and discussed once again, as were plans to engage more with local communities and businesses. MM acknowledged the frustrations felt by supporters in recent years but stated he expects us to take a fairer share of TV selections with teams such as Leicester, Leeds, Southampton, Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday all joining the league next season.

Supporter Behaviour

IS referenced the previous AA meeting, where Albion’s Head of Security & Matchday Operations, Howard Lewis-Jones, spoke about supporter behaviour. He confirmed a sub-committee involving members was set up, which is currently progressing well. IS said the club had been shortlisted for a pilot around tackling fan behaviour, which he believes shows their commitment to tackling and solving the problem.

It was also confirmed that stewards will be sent to away matches, and MM agreed when a member asked for the phone number of the anonymous reporting service to be more prominent during matches at The Hawthorns.

Matchday Atmosphere

RR spoke about how the club have set up another sub-committee, this time regarding matchday atmosphere. She said the first meeting would be soon, but IS pointed out only a small number had signed up so far – despite it being a big topic of discussion recently. He encouraged more members to join, so they could make observations, give criticisms, and ultimately help create change and improvements.

2024/25 Kits

IS alluded as to why supporters were not given the opportunity to get involved this season – which has since been announced via the 2023/24 home kit release story. He stated that a sub-committee will be set up to consult supporters on next year’s kits, though stressed early work had already been done, so members’ involvement would not be entirely from scratch. IS asked for different volunteers, rather than those who had already been involved in creating the 2022/23 kit.

Any Other Business (AOB)

Further conversations were had around the women’s team. RL said the budget had been significantly increased in the last few years, citing that as recently as four or five years ago the players were paying to play. IS explained the media and communications team had begun to expand their duties and take on the women’s team as part of their daily workload, which had not previously been the case on a full-time basis. He assured members that they will be consistently visible across the website and all social media channels once the transition into the club was complete.

Traffic management was also raised. MM stated the local council had committed to making changes at the roundabout of the M5 J1, but he was still waiting to see what the short-term and long-term plans were. He added that there weren’t just problems on a matchday, but staff also struggled with traffic at peak times in the week, so they were keen for solutions.

A discussion was then had around sustainability. RL introduced members to the club’s sustainability working group, which was set up last year and that he leads. He talked through their positive progress, which included changes to waste management and recycling, as well as other examples, such as how the catering team were looking at producing their own food.

Lastly, members asked about the stadium. MM said investment was going into improvements but there were, fundamentally, other and more urgent financial priorities. Various suggestions were also made by members regarding what they thought to be potential marketing opportunities around the stadium, which were taken on board by MM and RR.

Date of next meeting: Thursday, October 5, 2023.