Often Partisan

Permission To Talk

As feared, it has emerged that Chris Hughton has now become the top target of the West Bromwich Albion hierarchy to take over the Hawthorns hotseat from England manager Roy Hodgson.

Of course, this isn’t much new. It’s been in the press for a while that Hughton was likely to be a target of WBA’s as they’d approached him regarding the job before taking on Hodgson with the only stumbling block being that Chris wanted to appoint his own backroom staff – a stumbling block that was removed when Michael Appleton took on the manager job at Fratton Park.

However, that coupled with the news that emerged over the last couple of delays to the long-overdue accounts has led Blues fans to worry more over the future of the club. Hughton has been immensely popular since he has been at St Andrews and I will admit, I’ve never seen a manager have so many people chanting his name so often as I have seen Hughton’s name chanted this season.

For WBA to appoint Hughton they either have to formally approach Blues about talking to Chris, agreeing a compensation package should Hughton take the job or if those talks are refused hope that Hughton takes matters into his own hands and resigns his position. This Birmingham Mail article by Albion writer Chris Lepkowski states that WBA will be approaching Blues in the next few days.

The Blues board have an important decision to make here. They can of course refuse WBA permission to talk to Hughton but in doing so they run the risk of Hughton bringing matters into his own hands. The key will be if Chris Hughton has faith in the Blues board to deliver him what he needs to run the club, or if he thinks that the problems are now insurmountable and it may be best to get out whilst the going is good.

For me, I personally wouldn’t deny Chris Hughton the chance to move on. I’d be naturally disappointed – I hope he stays he for a while because it’s my belief that he’s helped to give back the club it’s spark and it’s soul. However, I respect him as a man and a coach and if things at Blues are as pear-shaped as some of the doom-mongers have predicted then it wouldn’t be fair on him to throw away a chance to move on somewhere where he would be better appreciated by a club’s owners.

It’s another key test for Mr Pannu and for the owners. If they can successfully rebuff WBA and convince Hughton to stay, then it’s possible that fans might think that the situation is better than it seems and some faith may be restored that things are going to be okay. If however Chris moves on – either by resignation or because the club allow WBA to speak to him I think it will get uglier for the Chinese as I think even more fans will feel betrayed by them.

This coming fortnight could be the making or breaking of our next season. If it goes well, the accounts will be filed, the embargo lifted and Chris Hughton will be planning on his next assault on the Championship. If it goes badly – well, I don’t even want to think about that right now. As ever, I will hope for the best but as has happened increasingly recently I will also be fearing the absolute worst.

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55 Responses to “Permission To Talk”

  • Mark says:

    The title scared me there I thought they had given hom persmission to speak to him!

  • paul davis says:

    Ill be devastated if he goes. while he is manager i feel that there is hope cause he knows how to get the best out of players. It doesnt bare thinking about if he should leave and who would step him. The board now have to give Chris assurances about the future and where this club is going or we will lose him. Last season will live long in the memory and its all thanks to Chris and the players.

  • Alex says:

    As a WBA fan I would like hughton as our next manager, and also would love if we got foster too

  • The Bhatti Brothers says:

    A major factor will be the player embargo which will completely close the transfer window for Blues, due to the continued lack of published accounts.
    No matter what words the Blooze board keep spouting, if the club is in such a poor financial state, it is inevitable that CH will walk.

  • AlbioninPeace says:

    I often pop in here for a look as it’s one of the more sane and educated footballing blogs. As a Baggies fan I’ve seen my club go through many travails on the way back to position they’re in now, and most of us have never had much of an axe to grind with the Blues.

    The sorry state of the ownership at St Andrews will probably have more effects next season than last. I don’t share the optimism of some of you on here about the state of the club. I fear you could be doomed if you don’t get rid of the charlatans ‘in charge’ sharpish.

    The one bright spark at the club is Hughton, who has done a magnificent job at Blues. I’m afraid if it’s not us then it will be someone else.

  • Smokin says:

    Please take a holiday…. you really do need it :) I can recommend Djerba :)

    You state that this is another test for the Chinese. Why? You seem to be stating that, if Blues’ finances are OK and he has a bit of money to bring in players, he would automatically turn down the Baggies. You are losing your sense of realism. If the Baggies offer him the job, an important factor affecting the decision CH will take will be the chance to manage in the Premiership with a team that is semi-established. Not many managers in the Championship would turn that down easily at all.

    LIle everyone else says, I would be gutted to lose Hughton. But keeping him is not a matter of trusting the Chinese. Please, please use and brain and realise that whatever the financial state mentioned in the accounts, we are not in that position now. We have had the fire sale, we have reduced our wage bill (with Zigic and Fostor to go). CH has managed us through all of that, and as a result he will not leave because of it. He will leave for the challenge and (at this time) the promtion it would be in his status. Ultimately, you are getting ready to blame Pannu again for something which is not 100% within his control. That would be twice in two days!

    Finally, if CH leaves we will get compensation. Even, if you suggest, he was to quit, the saga last year with the Ginger leaving demonstrates that compensation will be payable. (The unlikely alternative being that the Baggies wait for CH to serve out his notice periosd.)

    • Kaje says:

      Compensation?

      Due to the type of contract he’s on, we would ONLY receive around £750,000 in compensation.

      No, thanks.

      • NooBloo says:

        tHE COMPENSATION WOULD BE CLOSER TO HALF THAT BUT THATS THE CHANCE bIRMINGHAM TOOK BY NOT PUTTING HIM ON A LONGER CONTRACT AND ON A LARGER SALARY

        How can we demand more than that for someone we wouldnt offer a longer contract to.

        That said. This blog is nothing new. The only reason this is reported today is because CH is due to go away on holiday and if any potential club is looking to prise him away from us they would need to do it before he goes. I still have a feeling that WBA arnt really in a position to offer anything that B/ham cant except Premier League football next yer.

        Maybe that is enough and maybe it isnt. One thing is for sure, it is not a foregone conclusion

    • Mickey07 says:

      £700k comp,I’d rather keep his services….

    • almajir says:

      Smokin

      Blues are currently under a transfer embargo and will remain that way until accounts are published. Self-set deadlines have come and gone and I have seen no urgency from within the parent company to sort it out.

      Thus Blues are in limbo at the moment. They’ve got targets, they know who they want to go for but nothing can be done until the accounts are sorted out. The longer that goes on, the worse the situation gets.

      Meanwhile, we have a manager in great demand and he has to be thinking about himself – so far he’s covered himself in glory but would you want to continue working with one hand tied behind your back? I like Chris Hughton, I think he likes being at Blues A LOT – he’s really connected with us as a club and as a fanbase but there will come a time when maybe that might not be enough.

      It’s down to the Chinese to prove to Chris that it’s worth staying, that they will support him as best as possible – just bloody filing the accounts would be a great start. If they can’t convince him it’s worth staying, why should we believe them?

  • AR says:

    I also was shocked by the title of this article. It is possible that Lepowski has written this article as a “stalking horse” to see what the Club and/or CH think or do. We’ve had too much aggro coming from WBA in one form or another, & instead of always hoping well for them (except when they played us), I now feel like wishing them ill if they carry on like this. I will be very, very unhappy if CH goes.

  • baggieinmanc says:

    Well written article. I hate all this bad blood between our two clubs at the moment. We need a new manager and Ranieri and Hughton are top of my personal lists. We also need Foster. That is about the sum of it all. Blues have been more succesfull over the last two decades, granted, but that is not the case at the present time.
    At the moment WBA are in the ascendancy (hopefully) and in future years we could be a strong ally to a Blues side fighting thier way back up. Our squad is already very strong and Blues have felt the benefit of that this season already. If Blues dig thier heels in and try to scupper the Baggies now, because of our present position and previous managers success after being with us, Hughton may well leave of his own accord anyway. This may also create a bad vibe between the two clubs and make an enemy of the Albion board, meaning that good loans from us may not be avaliable in the future.
    As for Foster, his wages are too dear for the Championship. If you do get new owners, it is unlikely he will be happy playing in the Championship and fighting for a place against an up and coming England keeper anyway. Which ever keeper you play, you’ll piss the other one off it would be better to get rid now and get some money rather than fight for an unmotivated Foster who will turn down any new contract and leave for a free anyway.
    Being well versed in relegation we know that when you go down you have to offload the big earners, not because they want to leave but because it’s bad business to keep them on the pay roll. I hope it sorts itself out in both our favour. We get Hughton or Ranieri and Foster and you get Curbishly or Poyet and new ownership. See you back in the Prem soon.

    Boing Boing

    • Evesham Blue says:

      Mate Baggies have lost their manager. Dont kid yourself that you are an “established” premier league side now. You will be scrapping round the bottom of the league next year as well. I am sure Bolton thought they were established and just like Blues you have been a yo yo club up until recently.

      As for Foster – you cant afford him mate not unless you throw in Myhill and a decent fee. He will probably end up going to QPR if they pay the money.

      Hughton will want to finish off what he started. Blues gave him the chance and he is much loved. He is happy here. Why risk that to go to your local rivals? Why would he want to go somewhere he wasnt wanted the first time round? As for compensation – you will have to pay for all his backroom staff as well. I doubt Baggies will be splashing alot of money around for Soster or Hughton.

      • Terrythrostle says:

        Tut tut, sounds like sour grapes to me! At the moment mate, Albion are a far better choice than Blues, as I’ve already said WE are NOT in debt, and ARE one of the best run clubs in the country. We ARE on the UP, whereas Blues are most definitely on a DOWNWARD spiral! Why wouldn’t Chris Hughton or any other manager NOT want to come to the Hawthorns ? These ARE FACTS! I’m not running Blues down, but you have to accept them!

        • Evesham Blue says:

          Believe what you want. Baggies are no better than the Dog Heads. One season is a long time – and I remeber many a season when we were in the Prem and Baggies were in the champ. So dont get too cocky. In fact why dont you take yourself onto another blog which isnt dedicated to Blues

        • Paul Carter says:

          Fair comments

  • DoctorD says:

    I am pretty sure if the Baggies approach us, PP will be weighing one thing and one thing only in his mind: how much compensation can he get out of West Brom. If he plays too much hard ball, CH will resign and there’ll be no cash changing hands. Relent too easily and then it’s just the one year’s salary presumably. Not quite sure how these things work but it must be something like that.

    But hey there’s one thing to look forward to: the Blues in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea at Ashton Gate next Saturday (the womens’ cup final that is). Is anyone bothered about it?

    • almajir says:

      I will hopefully be there to report on it…

    • chris says:

      if he resigns then he or his new club have to pay compensation, the contract works both ways as it did when McTraitor left and compensation was paid.

  • Clive says:

    I can’t believe you keep saying you won’t begrudge him the move or wouldn’t blame him if he moved on. This pathetic defeatist attitude amazes me. Why wouldn’t he stay he has only been here a year and we gave him a job when no one else had as up until then most thought his success at toon was purely down to the squad he had.
    He is being paid well and the club has been kept him up to date and he knew full well what he was getting into. He has an obligation to stay as far as I am concerned as he has had our support and that of the Board to date as he has stated so have a bit of pride in your club and remind him of this and I for one would not be impressed one little bit if he did go unless severely pushed.
    With friends or fans like you who needs enemies.Unbeleivable negativity.

    • Gareth says:

      Totally agree when you say “Why wouldn’t he stay he has only been here a year”.

      Atkins’ article in the mail saying “Hughton deserves to go if a prem club comes in for him” was typical of today’s football. The attitude of “He’s been there a year, things haven’t got perfectly, let’s move on. Hate this attitude.

    • Cleggy says:

      You’re mistaking well formed opinion and generosity of spirit for negativity Clive. Think before you rant, mate.

  • DoctorD says:

    I’ll be sad if he goes but, hey, there’s always someone else round the corner to take over who’ll be desperate enough for a job. The broadsheets always call it “the managerial landscape” ie their spreadsheet of names.

  • Jonathan says:

    Blues decided to give CH a 1 year rolling contract. Thats good because it means not too much compensation to the manager if he has to be sacked. But its bad in that the level of compensation coming to Blues is at ana bsolute maximum 1 years salary if he goes to another club. Given the ridiculous state of affairs with Chinese ownership and its limitations on the club he is going to be highly motivated to accept an approach from a premiership side. If its not West Brom it will be someone else, Wigan most likely. So get used to it, CH is off. Maybe someone will be gotten in whose not too bad, perhaps with a Blues link to replace him, but probably under the same terms of employment. Got a strange feeling Hughton will be WBA manager by June and Curbishley will be Blues manager by July on a 1 year rolling contract…

  • akferguson says:

    As a life long Baggyboy, Ive always found it strange how two West Midland clubs like Albion and Blues get on so well. The fans respect each other and are arguably the noisiest fans in the Midlands. Albion’s rivalary with Wolves is nasty as is Blues with Villa, but surely there must be something that comes between WBA and BCFC. Any thoughts !

  • Macc lad says:

    West Brom? What? Are you serious? How is that moving up? I wouldn’t want to stand in Hughton’s way if Liverpool or Chelsea came calling. Or if one of the other big jobs came up, but West Brom certainly doesn’t represent a movement up the management ladder scale in my mind.
    I don’t think for one minute that Chris would even consider such a move, unless of course we are about to enter administration and his staff was being cut.
    He’s probably our most popular manager since Jim Smith. Lauded and worshipped round these parts. He know’s he’ll never get that again wherever he goes, so I’m sure his next move will be carefully considered.
    I never thought I’d see a manager cross Birmingham again in my lifetime after the disaster that was watching Ron Saunder’s team. I can’t believe, no I refuse to believe it’s about to happen for the second time in 12 months

    • Terrythrostle says:

      Where have you been Macc lad? Look at the tables and the financial reports from the clubs. Then tell me that if you were a manager you wouldn’t jump at the chance of managing a progressive club Like West Bromwich Albion ? Roy Hodgson didn’t blink an eye at the chance! why would Chris Hughton turn us down? You have to put sentiment second here mate! Listen to your head not your heart!

  • Art Watson says:

    Let’s try and keep this simple.

    CH will move on.

    Under the current circumstances wouldn’t you.?

    BC will probably lose the best manager the club have had in years.

    The future is definitely not orange-more like black.

  • Berkshire Blue says:

    I think PP should take a leaf out of Dave Whelan’s book and refuse WBA permission to talk if they do make an approach, making it clear that he we only give permisssion if a genuine big club does come in. West Brom are not that dissimilar from us – yes they are in the Premiership and did have one good season this year, but so did we two years back and look what happened. Their ownership structure is such that they never have a great deal to spend and I think the reality is like several other clubs they will be facing a relegation battle next season. In that circumstance I would be very disappointed if CH decided to take matters into his own hands and resign …but I guess it may depend on what support he thinks he is going to get for next season. But we did give him a chance when several others didn’t and have supported him with a good back room staff…it would be nice to think that there is still some loyalty around.

  • gibbo says:

    Mayor, i know you didnt think a lot of it but Moxeys peice in the mail recently haunts me,,they will sell every asset we have then dump us into admin,,it will simply be a case of how much,, and 750k for a guy like CH is peanuts

  • Bluehobba says:

    The article in the mail says that the Albion are “expected” to make an approach next week. I’m not saying this will or won’t happen but at no point in this article is it backed up with any evidence. I was expecting the accounts to be published (not that I’d understand them) but hey weren’t. Is this a page filler by the mail. Lets not speculate !!!

  • james says:

    I think the writing’s on the wall. Most players/managers decades ago would stick around to build a team/career. However modern day football demands success yesterday and with a crack at the premiership, a better salary and a transparent board, I wouldn’t blame CH for living. Would it break my heart? Yes. Am I being negative? No, just realistic.

    Everyone from Almajir to the posters would happily play for Birmingham City for peanuts, no club could tempt me away from MY fans, MY team, MY stadium. But for as great as Hughton has been, he isn’t a fan and will look after number one, the way most of us do in life/work etc.

    I’m pretty sure Almajir can defend himself but some of the comments on here are starting to get bit ja606ish – we’ll be calling each other b3ll 3nds before the weeks out.

    We have had a great season – I have NEVER seen European football until now. I have not seen ATTACKING football since Barry Fry, lets face it the dross under Bruce and then McCleish was painful. I have been to away games where I expect to win, to attack, to score goals. I am very grateful to Chris Hughton for this.

    As is always the way with our club, a drama, dodgy owner, scandal, hearbreak, are never far away. I would love CH to stay and be given some cash, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. A bit like the Ginger one playing 442.

    Could do with cheering myself up so I’m off to watch Victories over the Villa and THAT day in Feb on DVD.

    Keep Right On Lads

  • chris says:

    the mail says next week but why wait?
    have blues already refused permission, so it’s dragging on negotiating compo above the contract amount?
    red herring?
    who knows, wba maybe waiting to see if di matteo, alladyce or holloway become available if their teams fail.
    hope so anyway.

  • chris says:

    if he does go he may well insist on his current backroom staff joining him which adds complication and expense.
    are wba willing to fork out 2 to 4 million to get Hughton and his staff?

    • NooBloo says:

      Do you realy think that B/ham are paying CH and his 2 main staff even close to £2million, let alone £4 million. They most certainly aint. It does not even come close to half that I wouldnt have thought

  • oldburyblue says:

    We are at a crossroads. If CH goes it tells us far more about what is going on in the background at present and more importantly, likely to happen in the future. He came to us knowing all the facts regarding sales and purchases and was happen to work in that knowledge. If he goes things must be a lot worse than this time last year.

  • Baggie Dave says:

    As a baggies fan I do have a lot of time for the Blues. We had our opportunity to get Houghton but decided on a more experienced manager in Roy Hodgson and I still think we are 1 inexperienced manager away from a relegation fight. Personally, I would rather upset Fulham and get an experienced manager like Jol.

    Blues gave Houghton the chance to continue his career and he has the support of the fans, he seems the type of man who would appreciate that. But until the Blues sort themselves out, every time a managerial vacancy arises he will be linked to that job.

    As an outsider I am baffled at how you manage to attract a continuous flow of totally weird owners! Is there a signpost off the Aston Expressway pointing to St Andrews saying “welcome to Crazytown”!

    • Evesham Blue says:

      Cheers mate you talk alot of sense. You are right. Premiership survival should never be taken for granted. Baggies are in the same group of teams that will be fighting to stay out of it every year. No offence.

      I personally can only see CH going there if things get even worse for the Blues. Getting a bit tired of Blues Doom Mongers now as well. But all the paranoia from delayed accounts doesnt reassure. If we take Pannu at his word – we are not close to administration. A number of players have had contracts sorted as well. Just publish the fricking accounts tho!

      I am sure CH will be carefully planning for next season working on the assumption that the transfer embargo will be lifted at some point. He has worked under these conditions all season. In any case let him go on holiday – transfer window doesnt open till July!! A number of targets can be identified before then.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    My biggest concern is that no one of sane mind will buy a season ticket until the dust clears, if it doesnt, then the club will be deprived of ticket revenue until the club is sold.

  • jeff says:

    if c.h goes i,d understand but would be gutted.i feel c.h can change the whole mentality of the club.

  • KiwiJohn says:

    If CH does go then we could get in another attack minded manager. Who knows? This could be a continuation of his legacy. I’m trying to be positive! KRO

  • Terrythrostle says:

    There’s no need for all this animosity between Albion and Blues fans. Personally I think he should stay with Blues for loyalty’s sake! But what choice has he got? Blues are in trouble financially! If he stays how much will he have for new players? Will he and the players get paid? It’s a terrible situation to be in I would imagine. We have no such worry s at Albion, and as much as I would like us to splash the cash a bit more! West Bromwich Albion have no debt! and are one of the best run clubs in the country! We are a club on the up! and will be a great prospect for any manager, let alone Chris Hughton! So don’t blame him if he does go, he wants progress and success just like anyone else! What Birmingham City have to do is find fit and proper owners A.S.A.P. I wish your club and fans all the best for next season, and hope that everything works out in your favour!

  • Jonathan says:

    Sorry almajir but Moxey was right :-( The only reason it hasn’t “started already” is the window isn’t open yet, but it soon will be…

  • Evesham Blue says:

    I have a suspicion the delayed accounts are tied up in CY court case somehow? A bit of Chinese smoke screens. I guarantee that Pannu is fully aware that the club will need to lift the embargo before July and tht we need to kep CH. Doesnt stop us identifying prospective bosmans tho. I will also guarantee that Blues will not have very much funds for transfers. We will mainly be shopping for bosmans and prem loans. How is that any different from last season? Get real people – unless you have mega wealthy owners not many teams can afford to splash millions around. Plus clubs have to live within their means going forward…

  • Roy Smith says:

    C H is rightly considered a decent man. If he goes it will totally destroy any idea that I may still retain that there is loyalty in football. We gave him a job when no one else would look at him and let’s be honest, even if we are not paying top dollar he’s still not on pauper’s wages at the Blues. I hope he will return the good turn we did him when we appointed him and stay for at least a year more, if the club can’t match his ambitions over that time then he can go to pastures new with my blessing and thanks.
    As for bad blood with the Baggies why should there be any ill feeling?
    Baggies want what we have, we want to keep him. As Don Corleone said it’s business not personal.

    • Evesham Blue says:

      Here here. Bad blood with the Baggies comes from some of their supporters (not all) thinking they are now an “established” Premier team when in fact if circumstances were different the roles could quite easily be reversed and they have been over the last 10 years. So message is you are no bigger than Blues in fact you are pretty much of a muchness. Blues went down on 39 points. Vile would be down this year. So dont get c0cky Albion fans. You could be going down yourselves next year and we could be swapping places

  • Paulo says:

    We know all this dont we? We predicted this could happen didnt we? Why are we so p***ed off about it? ..well, it’s the betrayal of it all I guess. But not from CH.
    The question is, who is going to bow to the media pressure first! The baggies have been using the papers a lot in recent times, and who the hell knows what the agents are up to behind the scenes!

    Money talks.

    There will always be Birmingham City FC.

    • Evesham Blue says:

      CH hasnt done anything untoward. In fact he has distanced himself from speculation. I just get sick of the feckin media trying to pick th meat from our bones all the time. Why the feck would CH go to Albion for fecks sake? If for some unknown reason he did – well he can feck off with Mcleish as well. Media twaddle. Lets just keep our heads. He will be here for another crack next season.

      • NooBloo says:

        Thankfully CH wont read your blog Evesham; however, if he did then it us not the sort of comment that is going to convince him to stay. In facy if I were him and read it then it is the sort of comment that would convince me to leave

        • Evesham Blue says:

          Why? Ok so I didnt get my message across. The point I was trying to make is I dont think he will go – but if he did go to Albion then well..I would be pretty angry and hurt to say the least because I dont want him to go especially to our local rivals! Also, I could perhaps understand if a bigger club came knocking but I am afraid the Albion fans have p1$$ed me off on here today as well as the media stories and uncertainty. I guess I should really stay calm and trust until it becomes apparent we will part company. It’s just the fear getting the better of me. Sorry

  • Paul Carter says:

    It’s not will CH go it’s when.

    The concern is who would come given our predicament?


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