West Bromwich Albion have appointed director Clive Stapleton as acting chairman after the resignation of Paul Thompson from the post was formally accepted at a board meeting last night. However, uncertainty over the future make-up of the board continues, threatening to tear apart a club newly promoted to English football's top flight.
The club plan to advertise for a full-time replacement for Stapleton, but face a challenge for power from fellow directors Jeremy Peace and Joe Brandrick, who are seeking an extraordinary general meeting – backed by major shareholders Kappa Limited – to appoint Peace as the full-time executive chairman and remove Stapleton and another director, Barry Hurst, from the board.
Peace said: "This decision was not unanimous. It was also made after a highly public dispute involving the outgoing chairman and the team manager, Gary Megson."
Thompson and Megson had been at loggerheads over the club's future direction, particularly about how much money would be made available for new signings, but despite the pair's disagreements Thompson will not be selling his stake in the club and remains on the board of directors.
Peace said he feels it is time for a change of thinking now that the Baggies are hoping to establish themselves among the élite of the Premiership. "Despite the positive contribution the outgoing chairman had previously made to the club, I cannot stand by and sanction the way the club is now being run. Uppermost in my mind is the need to unite our fans, customers and employees behind a strategy that protects and advances the football and commercial future of the club."