Much has been made of the quality of Tony Mowbray’s scouting network so far this season but given the seamless way the Baggies’ new arrivals have eased in to the Premier League it is the manager himself who might become a target for bigger clubs.
West Bromwich Albion have signed ten players for £22.9 million so far this season and all of them have impressed.
It is exactly the way a club like Albion has to compete, says chairman Jeremy Peace, the man responsible for making the deals happen.
He said: “What we’re trying to do is source the right players at the right price and that may help our money go further so maybe we can compete with some of the bigger clubs who have more resource and maybe can afford to pay out bigger fees and salaries. We have to be cleverer in the way we spend our money.
“We are trying to bring younger players through and will continue to invest in our sports science area.
“Tony has his aspirations and we’re trying to support them. When he joined two years ago we said we’d try and give him the platform to succeed.”
The latest relatively unknown youngsters linked with the club include Borussia Dortmund’s Germany under-21 international Marc-Andre Kruska and Millwall’s Zak Whitbread.
Fabien Delph, the Leeds United and England under-16 midfielder, is another to be linked with a move to The Hawthorns although his club has slapped a £4 million price tag on the teenager.
The emergence of talents like Gianni Zuiverloon, Ryan Donk, Jonas Olsson and a raft of the other newcomers serves as proof that Premier League competitiveness can be achieved without plunging a club into debt.
Nevertheless, Peace is aware of the corollary between his manager’s rising stock every time another footballing gem is unearthed.
He said: “I think Tony’s name is bound to be on a lot of lists at the moment.
“Maybe those people are monitoring him to see how he goes through his first season as a Premier League manager.
“He is only proving everything we said about him when we brought him here. He is showing that he is a thoroughly decent man and a very good manager.
“I’m sure people are looking at him, so it’s up to us to try to provide him with the platform to achieve everything he wants to here.
“We know that he is committed to producing a stream of talented players, that he is manager who wants to develop talented players and, by doing so, give this club something more to believe in than just survival. He is a big part of putting that belief into the club which I think the supporters have bought into.”
Yet Peace is convinced that the Baggies’ prudent financial management will stand them in the best possible stead for the coming months.
By embracing such prudent fiscal rules during a time of unprecedented economic hardship, it also strengthens the Baggies’ position.
Premier League television cash likely to increase thanks to international broadcast rights so a prolonged stay in the top flight will guarantee a regular annual turnover in excess of £50 million.
Peace said: “The biggest segment of our revenue is the Premier League revenue. That is about 60 per cent of our revenue. They have got the contract that runs for this year plus another and they will be doing the pre-marketing for the next deal very soon.
“The international rights are clearly growing in value so, from a Premier League point of view, I think the business is pretty sound, fundamentally strong and popular. If there is going to be a wave of redundancy in this country and worldwide, at what point to people stop playing their television subscriptions?
“Or do they keep their Sky subscription because they can’t afford to go out? I suspect people will keep Sky, because they will be staying in a lot if things get really tough.
“So I think we’re quite robust from that point of view. On the retail side things are holding up quite well. Whether it goes off the edge of a cliff next month, who knows?
“We have noticed people are buying the shirts and the clothing but the gift items are staying on the shelves a little longer. Generally it is holding up quite well.
“Conferences and events are a pretty small part of our business and that is flat at the moment.
“As an employer you can’t really be laying people off and still having an office party but that’s still a very small part of our business.
“In terms of ticketing prices I think we have reduced them to a very attractive level. I am very pleased at the take-up.”