BBC WM's interview with Chairman Paul Thompson

Hot on the heels of the Press Conference, WM interviewed the new WBA Chairman

Tim Beech (WM): What plans do you have for the club?

Paul Thompson: I think people recognise that we've got some challenges at the club and, therefore, we need to look at some short term plans first before we can move on to longer plans. The club has been losing 30,000 pounds a week. It's been in turmoil and disunited, and our first aim is to re-unite the club, increase our match attendances - we'd like everybody out on Boxing Day and January 3rd to support the team. We want to improve our financial position and bring stability to the club. Once we've achieved then we want to move on, and I've said I'll take on the job for 3 years. During that 3 year period, I'd like to see us in a top 6 position challenging for the Premier League, redeveloping the Rainbow Stand or possibly moving to a new stadium and obviously developing the training ground and the youth academy.

TB: If you're losing 30,000 pounds a week, though Paul, it doesn't really suggest that there's gonna be much money for Brian Little to improve a side that's currently 15th in the First Division?

PT: I agree with you there, and I think it's a sad situation that we are in that position. There is currently no money in the club of any significance for new players, but we have got some good players at the club. Brian's got some plans to put in place to try and improve our position and he and I are going to be working closely together. We will make some funds available for new players and, once we can stabilise the club, reduce our losses, then we can start to build and then we can start to make the sort of improvements that Baggies fans deserve.

TB: Clive Stapleton and Barry Hurst have rejoined the Board. What's the thinking behind that?

PT: I'm pleased that the Board have invited them back. I think it's important that we utilise the experience and talent that's around the club and I think people, over the last 12 months, have come to appreciate more, perhaps, what some of the silent board members have been contributing to the club.

TB: Brian Little has said this morning in the news conference that he's 100% committed to the job. You spent a long time with him yesterday talking it through - was it difficult to persuade him to stay at Albion?

PT: I think that Brian shares many of the same hopes and objectives for the club that I share with him, and I think it's vitally important that the Chairman and Manager of the club work closely together. Clearly, Brian's role is vital to the club. He's got vast managerial experience. I think we're very fortunate to have him at the club. As we chatted yesterday, we found so much common ground that we were both encouraged and we feel that we'll be able to work together to help the club move forward.

TB: So how will the management structure work now, because this has been a big issue over the past week or so? People have been asking for clarification about what their role is. How is it going to work?

PT: Well I think you need clear responsibilities and clear lines of reporting, and Brian will be working closely with me. I'll also be working closely with John Wile, who I think has had a difficult time, along with Brian, over the past few months. I think John has done a great deal for the club, he's got a lot of experience and will play a key role. Clearly Brian is responsible for all football matters and will have the last word on any football matter while I'm Chairman.

TB: Finally, and I think this is a question that would occur to any rational person, why should any person like yourself, who's been successful in business, want to come into a club that isn't actually your home town club - you're from Barnsley as you've said in the press conference and you've worked in Sheffield a considerable amount - why would you want to come in and take over a football club, be Chairman of a football club, that's losing 30,000 pounds a week, that's 15th in the First Division, and seems to be disunited?

PT: Well we've got tremendous supporters at the club, and I think we've got a huge amount of latent support. I think the people that have maybe not been to The Hawthorns for a while may be encouraged now to come and support us. If we could get another 4,000 through the turnstiles, it would help the club tremendously and move us forward and, obviously, we've got a great fixture with Manchester City - the last match of the 20th Century. And then the first match of the 21st Century against Barnsley, which is the place I was born. I'd like us to give them a good thumping on January 3rd!

 - Transcribed by Chris Wright

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