Paul Thompson's replies to questions from BOING

Paul Thompson answers a set of questions from BOING in advance of the EGM

Two identical sets of questions were faxed to Paul Thompson and Tony Hale on 30th June to try and pin down their views on the past, present and future of West Bromwich Albion and to try and help shareholders to decide how to voteat the forthcoming EGM. This page gives you the questions and the replies from Paul Thompson:

From your viewpoint why do you think that new players, or loan players were not brought to the club in the last few months of last season. Was it:

  1. because lack of funds would have created an unacceptable financial deficit
  2. because the team would still not have been sufficiently improved to make a difference to promotion or play-off chances
  3. because the manager advised that players of sufficient calibre were not available at an affordable salary
  4. delays in identifying and negotiating with potential loan players
  5. disagreement amongst board members on the merits of new signings
  6. some other reason (please indicate)?

I believe that new players or loan players were not brought to the Club in the last few months of the season because of lack of funds. I believe that the decision not to bring in loan players was the wrong decision. I believe that costs were being cut at the Club in view of the large loss which has occurred this year.

In formulating a business plan to attract new investment, what would be the main points you would want to emphasise:

  1. the prospects for promotion to the lucrative Premier league
  2. the maintenance of share values from a well-run business at whatever level the club was playing
  3. the asset value of players
  4. the asset value of the ground, training ground etc
  5. a guaranteed seat on the board for a large enough investment
  6. some other please specify?

In formulating a business plan to attract new investment I would want to emphasise:

  1. The excellent support base which the Club has
  2. The excellent location of the Stadium at the heart of the United Kingdom
  3. The excellent history of the Club
  4. The prospects for promotion to the Premier League
  5. The talented players we have at the Club who are capable of achieving much more if the playing squad is developed properly in the future
  6. The management capability at the Club if we get a new Chairman and the other necessary changes are made.

In the light of long-standing reports of problems with controls over the acquisitions of new players and their contractual details, was the precise nature of these problems in your opinion, due to:

  1. directors applying criteria which were judged unrealistic by coaching staff
  2. lack of a generally agreed set of criteria within the administration as a whole
  3. clashes of personalities which were resolved when team managers changed
  4. some other reason (please specify)?

I believe there have been no effective controls over the acquisitions of new players and their contractual details and that is why we are losing so much money without achieving a squad of players which can challenge for the Premier League. It is not how much we spend on players that counts, it is spending the right amounts on the right players which will bring success. This area will only be corrected by a strong Chairman who is prepared to put in place effective controls.

How should the acquisition of new players be managed and planned:

  1. purely according to their quality and within realistic budgets
  2. according to quality with budgetary waivers if players are exceptional
  3. only if their wage demands fall within a uniform and unvarying wage structure
  4. mainly on the valuation of the team manager
  5. on the joint valuation of manager, chief executive and designated director
  6. on the final decision of the chairman
  7. by all the board of directors
  8. some other principle or arrangements, (please indicate)?

I believe the acquisition of new players should be managed and planned thoroughly taking into account:

  1. The quality of players
  2. Realistic budgets
  3. Budgetary waivers if players are exceptional
  4. The manager's assessment of the player - normally the manager would have the right of veto over a player joining the Club
  5. The joint valuation of a team which would include the Manager, the Chairman, the Chief Executive and other appropriate people.

In what specific ways do you think that the commercial operations need to be improved in order to generate extra revenue; e.g. improving range of retail lines?

There are many ways in which commercial operations need to be improved but an answer would need to be detailed and extensive and lack of time prevents me from providing such an answer at the moment. [Note: Mr Thompson discussed this answer in slightly more depth over the telephone, and he stated that there were so many areas in which improvement could be made, and there was so much to be done that it couldn't be answered by a series of one-liners - but two main points are the issue. First is the belief that improvements can be made in all areas of the commercial operations despite the performances on the pitch not being up to the desired level, and second is the belief in the importance of the customer - the fan sitting in the stands, the sponsors sitting in the executive boxes, the customers in the Club shop and so on].

If confirmed as chairman of WBA plc, how long would you wish to remain in charge if your leadership did not result in promotion:

  1. one more season
  2. two seasons
  3. three seasons
  4. indefinitely?

If I became Chairman of West Bromwich Albion, I would want the shareholders and supporters to give me their full support for three years. At the end of three years I would hand over to the next Chairman unless there was overwhelming support for me to continue as a result of successful achievements at the Club.

Would your chairmanship involve changes in the division of responsibilities amongst directors, for example delegating more responsibility for specific functions to one or more directors?

If I became Chairman there would be changes in responsibilities amongst directors but I cannot be expected to say what they would be until they have been discussed by the Board.

If yes to the above question, how would this delegation be organised; e.g. by separating chairmanship of WBA plc from the chairing of WBA FC?

If I became Chairman I would intend to be Chairman of both the Plc and the Football Club.

How many new potential directors have given firm assurances that they will join a board if your chairmanship is confirmed?

I do not believe that seats on the Board should be bought by a cash injection, but clearly people who have substantial amounts of cash to invest may well be able to make a very good contribution at Board level. If I became Chairman I would want Mr. Hurst and Mr. Stapleton to rejoin the Board because of the contribution they are capable of making at Board level. I have an open mind in respect of Mr. Brandrick, Mr. Coulston and Mr. Wile at the present time. I would also be seeking a further two Board members of the right calibre. I have no current view of who they would be, but I will say that they need to be Directors of the highest calibre that we can find and attract, provided they can be seen by shareholders and supporters to be fully committed to the Club.

How much extra capital would you expect these new investors to supply that can be used for purchase of new players?

I believe that the Club needs to raise around £10 million, a minimum of £3 million (preferably more) to develop the playing squad, £1 million for the training ground and £5 million for a new stand. £1 million needs to be found to make good this year's loss. I believe that based upon the right three year plan, properly discussed with shareholders and supporters, this sort of sum can be raised.

Reports suggest that an investor holding 25% of the share capital can block the issue of new shares. If the EGM fails to resolve the present disagreement do you believe that this restriction will continue to operate? Please give reasons for your opinion.

I believe I am the only shareholder holding 25% of the share capital. Contrary to statements made by Mr. Hale on the radio, I have never at any time done anything to block, frustrate or delay a rights issue at West Bromwich Albion or to oppose any attempts to raise additional monies for the Club. This matter is so important to shareholders and supporters that, in the absence of Mr. Hale retracting the false statements which he made about me, I have had no alternative but to issue a Writ against him. There has been no restriction imposed by any shareholder in the past and therefore there is no restriction to continue.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. I am happy for you to publish or publicise the answers as you see fit.

Best wishes,

Paul Thompson

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