Comment: Mark Jenkins shows why he is the right man for West Brom
It can be very easy to criticise high-profile figures at a football club.
Making financial decisions that could potentially lessen your team’s chances of success on the field isn’t ever going to endear you to supporters.
But good chief executives make the right calls no matter how tough.
And Albion’s Mark Jenkins deserves immense credit for showing he is willing to put the club before himself by taking a 100 per cent pay cut. We are now at a point where football and society in general face a massive disconnect.
More than a million people have applied for universal credit since the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. That rush to welfare support shows the depth of the jobs crisis caused by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, other employers have had to have incredibly difficult conversations with staff after making the decision to put them on furlough.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means the government will pay those placed on temporary leave 80 per cent of their wages.
But that loss of 20 per cent will be felt in households up and down the country.
And in the midst of this crisis, football is growing increasingly disconnected with the public as a whole.
The decision of clubs like Newcastle, Tottenham, Bournemouth and Norwich to place their staff on furlough is, quite frankly, shameful.
The Premier League’s hopes of striking a deal to secure a 30 per cent wage deduction from players was also rejected in what is turning into an unsavoury dispute with the PFA. Players say they want to do the right thing – their argument is that they want to make sure any pay cut benefits the right people.
But so far very little has happened. And that’s what is so hard to stomach – how difficult can it be for multimillionaires to help?
Jenkins, though, has stepped forward while everybody else is squabbling. And he’s done it because he understands all football clubs need to make savings – even if Albion are better placed then most teams in the Championship.
With football suspended indefinitely, clubs have next-to-no income. They are missing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds each week in gate receipts.
And the question facing them all is where will those savings be made?
Jenkins, by stopping his salary, is giving something back.
And it’s also important to note that other members of Albion’s senior management team have also offered to take significant reductions to their pay.
The Baggies’ hierarchy is trying to do the right thing. If they do have to go down the furlough route – the club will top up all employees’ salaries by 20 per cent to ensure they remain on full pay.
And it’s the actions of Jenkins and the senior management team are helping to make that possible. It was only last week that the chief executive was again making headlines following the publication of Albion’s accounts.
Back in 2016, Jenkins left the club following Guochuan Lai’s takeover.
In the 14 months that followed, Albion were relegated and went from having £40million in the bank to needing an overdraft facility.
Upon his return, Jenkins sat down with the media and – voice close to cracking with emotion – explained the situation he had found when he got his hands back on the books. “The club has gone beyond its own financial limits,” he said. Now – thanks to some excellent business in the transfer market – Albion are financially stable, sit second in the Championship and are again being seen as a model club.
Due to his close working relationship with former owner Jeremy Peace – there will always be some fans Jenkins is unable to win over. But his actions this week and since his return show he is a man who has Albion’s best interests at heart.
The club is, undoubtedly, much better off with him at the helm.