A region’s top sports reporter is leaving newspapers to help a troubled Premiership football club “re-connect” with its fans after going through four managers in six months.
Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year Martin Swain is moving from his role as chief sports writer of the Express & Star after 25 years to become director of communications at West Bromwich Albion.
The arrival of Martin, who left his position last week after 25 years covering football home and abroad for the top-selling UK regional daily, follows an independent audit of marketing and communications operations at The Hawthorns.
West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace has given Martin the job of developing a “better connect” with the club’s fans as part of a sweeping review of internal structures at the Baggies.
He said: “I fully recognise that the season ended with everyone relieved to have maintained Premier League status and our supporters registered their discontent on a range of other issues.
“I believe that as director of communications, Martin can begin and lead the task of healing some of those tensions and build a new way forward to ensure this perceived gap between club and supporters is closed.
“Martin is an experienced and well-regarded figure within the football media industry with an advanced knowledge of this club’s community and heritage.”
Martin added: It’s been an amazing privilege to report on our region’s sport for the Express & Star. It will clearly be a big wrench to leave the newspaper but this job gives me a chance to make a positive contribution to one of our great institutions and that is what I shall endeavour to do.
“I think the very fact that the board at Albion have identified the need for such an appointment underlines their determination to resolve some well-documented difficulties which last season caused the club and the fans much anguish.
“Neither wants to be in conflict with the other and one of my priorities will be to try to ease those problems.
“I’m also sure I am about to discover it is a lot easier looking in and commenting from the outside than being on the inside trying to solve problems and go forward!”
Outside of journalism – Martin has found himself appearing on the news and entertainment pages of a number of regional papers as the critically acclaimed ‘Paul McCartney of Coventry’.
For more than 20 years, he has led one of Coventry’s best loved bands, The Swains – famous for their cover versions of famous bands, including the Beatles.