Peace sells...but who's buying?

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Jeremy Peace (nr.3 fra venstre) med potensielle utenlandske investorer?
OK, så så ble det ikke noe salg av klubben i sommer, men likevel en grei anledning å siterere Megadeth...

Kom over denne lille saken i finansavisen for en liten stund siden: Peace må selge klubben veldig mange ganger for å i det hele tatt nærme seg andre klubbeieres egnes bankkontoer.

Med anslagsvis 60 millioner kroner i banken er Peace klart fattigst. Nærmeste over er Evertons eier Bill Kenwright som har ti ganger så mye.

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Ellers har Peace kommet med årsberetning for noen dager siden. jeg har ikke den økonomiske knowhow til å oversette dette, men ettersom jeg skjønner står det fortsatt bra til i klubbkassa.

CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT FOR YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2008
Posted on: Fri 10 Oct 2008
WINNING our first league trophy for 88 years and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 26 years made last season a memorable one for the Club and all of our supporters. The team played positive and attractive football to score more than 100 goals for the second year running. Tony Mowbray, his coaching staff and the players richly deserve all the plaudits bestowed upon them for winning the Coca-Cola Championship.

In the League Cup, after victories over AFC Bournemouth and Peterborough United, we were defeated in the third round by Cardiff City. However, our FA Cup campaign was much more successful. The team scored sixteen goals to beat Charlton Athletic, Peterborough United, Coventry City and Bristol Rovers before losing a closely-fought contest with Portsmouth in the semi-final at the new Wembley.

Elsewhere, the reserve team competed in the Pontin's Holidays League Division One (Central), finishing fifth, whilst the Under-18 side featured in the Premier Academy League, with Michael Appleton leading them to a seventh-place finish in Group C.

After last season's euphoria, we now face a very different challenge on our return to the Barclays Premier League, which we kicked-off at Arsenal on 16 August. To date, after 7 games, the Club is in 9th position in the Premier League with 10 points. Meanwhile, we were knocked out of the League Cup at the first hurdle, losing a second-round tie at Hartlepool United 3-1 after extra-time.

Following our third promotion to the Premier League inside six years, we endeavoured to strike the right balance between organising the Club's finances in a sensible way and giving ourselves the best possible chance of establishing West Bromwich Albion in the top flight. During the summer transfer window, we acquired the registrations of ten players at an initial cost of £22.9m plus one on a season-long loan, having realised an initial £8.5m from the sale of Curtis Davies to Aston Villa. The forecast wage bill is now almost 50 per cent higher than our last season in the Premier League three years ago. The summer window also saw the departures of, amongst others, Zoltan Gera and Kevin Phillips and I would like to thank both players for their extremely valuable contributions whilst at the Club.

Since I became Chairman in June 2002, from an estimated turnover of £218m for this and the past six seasons, our
total spending on player registrations, first-team wages and coaching-staff salaries will stand at over £190m, with approximately £40m being recovered from player sales. The past few months have seen various coaching staff changes, including Peter Grant joining as first-team coach. Michael Appleton has added the role of reserve-team coach to his other responsibilities following the departure of Craig Shakespeare to Leicester City. Craig was an integral part of the coaching staff whilst at the club and we wish him well in his new role as Assistant Manager at the Walkers Stadium.

Group turnover for the 12 months ended 30 June 2008 rose to £27.2m compared to £23.8m the previous year, mainly due to a £4.5m increase in parachute payments following the improved Premier League media rights contract for which 2007/08 was the first season of a three-year deal. Despite reaching the FA Cup semi-final, gate receipts fell by £1m which was due to a twenty per cent reduction in season-ticket prices and the absence of play-off revenue. The provision of £1.3m promotion bonuses to the coaching and playing staff resulted in the Club recording a loss on ordinary activities before taxation of £1.1m, the first such deficit in seven years. However, having generated a profit of £18.1m from player sales, profit before tax was £11.3m compared to £5.4m the previous year. It should be noted the Club has more than reinvested this profit in new player registrations and future player wages.

Continued infrastructure improvements at the Stadium and Training Ground together with investment in the playing squad resulted in the Club's net debt increasing from £4.1m to £7m at the year end. As a result of this and the Club's continued investment policy the Board of Directors does not recommend the payment of a final dividend. As foreshadowed last year, the Board of Directors is now proposing a share consolidation on the basis of one new share for every ten held and I would draw your attention to the separate letter on pages 27 to 30 of this document which deals with this matter.

Following the departure of Simon Hunt, Dan Ashworth was appointed as Sporting & Technical Director (designate) in December 2007. After a successful probationary period, Dan took up the role on a permanent basis in July when he joined the Football Club Board. Dan has worked tirelessly in his new post which encompasses liaison with the manager, coaching staff and first-team squad plus the management of player recruitment, the sports science and medical departments and the Academy. All areas are progressing rapidly under Dan's stewardship and the Club is now well placed to meet the demands of the modern game.

Despite our promotion to the Premier League, season tickets were again available at reduced prices of an average of eleven per cent across all categories if purchased by 30 April. I am delighted to report this has prompted club record sales of 21,700 season tickets, forty per cent more than this time last year. Season-ticket holders can now watch Premier League football at The Hawthorns at an average cost of £13.68 per game.

Our away support continues to be a credit to the Club. As in the previous six seasons, we will be providing free coach travel to an away fixture, with the trip to Hull City on 31 January being the most likely choice. For home games, the Club is again providing subsidised transport on the popular 'Hawthorns Express' coach service. The 'Baggies Barge' also embarked on its first voyages last season. This unique football transport service was inspired by our supporters and it will once again ferry fans to and from selected home games from Central Birmingham this season.

Even before our promotion to the Premier League was confirmed, the Club began a major refurbishment of the Halfords Lane Stand, now renamed the West Stand, at a forecast cost of £3.5m. The facilities now available are of requisite Premier League standard from all perspectives. Over the coming seasons, improvements will be made to the other three stands to further upgrade the Stadium. Work has also taken place at the training ground with the addition of a new gym facility to further improve our sports science function, which has included the recruitment of Dan Harris from Birmingham City as Head of that department.

The Club continues to invest in new technology to improve supporters' matchday experience and Infogenesis,
an electronic point of sale (EPOS) solution, is now available in all four stands following its introduction in the new
West Stand.

The investment the Board has made in the Academy is beginning to bear fruit. This year has seen the highest-ever intake of Under-16 players on the two-year scholarship programme, with twelve promising players making this step. Eight members of our Academy have also won international caps over the past twelve months, with five representing England, two Wales and one the Republic of Ireland.

Our Community and Education Programme continues to strengthen its impact upon the local community and our next generation of supporters. Using themes based upon education, health and physical activity, the Community Programme reached young people in Sandwell, Dudley, parts of Birmingham and also further afield in Staffordshire and Worcestershire. For the second year running, the Club was runner-up in the Football League's Community-Club-of-the-Year Award.

The Sandwell Academy School, of which the Club is a sponsor, has flourished during its second year in operation.
The achievements of the first cohort of Sixth Form students were well beyond target whilst with a good performance
by Year Eight students in their SATS, the Academy School has made a very encouraging start in the business of
getting results.

Last year, we supported three nominated charities: Victim Support West Midlands, Brake and Childline Midlands. They enjoyed a successful twelve months, with a total of £31,500 being raised. This year, the Board has decided to support the Club's own registered charity, the Community Programme, in order to further extend its outreach to youngsters both in the locality and outlying areas.

The Club has continued to add to its memorabilia collection. Displays in the East Stand are expected to be completed this season and the refurbished West Stand will be decorated with more recent memorabilia. The Club also enjoys a close working relationship with the Former Players' Association and continues to support its activities.

We are now doing everything in our power to meet the challenging task of establishing the Club in the top flight. Given the vast wealth now being injected into the game by private benefactors and the absence of major capital investment, which we sought over the summer, the Club has to be even more proactive, organised and professional in the way it researches and recruits new players and financially manages the playing squad, which is where the bulk of its revenues are expended. Other costs will continue to be controlled in a prudent manner to safeguard the future of the Club in this difficult economic climate.

My grateful thanks go to everyone involved with the Club for their unstinting efforts during a highly successful year.

Jeremy Peace
Chairman

10 October 2008