Jeremy Peace today launched a passionate defence of Albion’s summer transfer business – and warned the club can’t take its Premier League place for granted.
Albion were criticised by fans for conducting the bulk of their incoming business at the 11th hour, when four players arrived on the most dramatic deadline-day in the club’s history. But
Peace, who has been Albion chairman since 2002, believes the Baggies must put their performance in perspective after finishing eighth last season – the highest Premier League finish in their history.
“There were some sensational headlines a couple of months ago following a lengthy interview with local journalists,” said Peace. “When asked whether the club could be in danger of standing still in the Premier League, I stated: ‘What are we? Where have we come from...The club is probably a mid-table Championship team that’s massively over-performing’.
“I didn’t suggest we’d be satisfied being in the Championship. If that was the case, I don’t think we’d have tried to entice Ben Foster, Nicolas Anelka, Scott Sinclair and Stephane Sessegnon. It’s important we remain grounded.
“Since the inception of the Premier League, according to Deloitte, we are ranked 29th. In terms of revenue and resources, there’s still a sizeable gap compared to many of our Premier League peers.
“But it’s a gap we’re actively trying to close.
“Studies have shown Premier League teams generally finish in line with their wage-bill ranking and we’ve managed to massively outperform this.
“In Deloitte’s 2011 and 2012 tables, we finished five places higher than our wage bill ranking. We’ll have to work harder to stay there.”
Albion’s sporting and technical director (designate) Richard Garlick reckons the squad is stronger.
“I believe we’re stronger as a unit than 12 months ago,” he said. “It’s important we are because the Premier League promises to be more competitive than ever this season.”
Garlick also revealed Albion’s transfer targets only became available really late in the window.
“We’d been watching Morgan Amalfitano for some time but it was only in the final week of the window that things fell into place,” he said.
“It was similar with Stephane and Victor, whom we have watched on many occasions.”
“Stephane played in Sunderland’s first two games and only became available five days before the deadline.
“Victor appeared regularly for Everton last season and we didn’t think he would become available. That also changed in the final week.”