Harty on who Albion should sign in January

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OVER the years the Albion have, in their own way, done things that have made the rest of domestic football sit up and take notice.

The signing of Tottenham centre-forward Bobby Smith in 1964 just months after he’d played for England, sent shockwaves around football, and, ultimately, rejuvenated the club for one of their most memorable campaigns in 1964-65.

The appointment as manager of Brian Clough in November, 1973, then arguably one of the best club managers in this country, if not Europe, put the then third division club on all of the back pages. Along with 10,000 on the gate for the next home game against York City, as well as the coveted Radio 2 match commentary of the day (in the days when the Beeb were only allowed to do the second half and couldn’t reveal the game in question until 2pm).

In 2000, and still a struggling club, playing in a temporary stadium, Micky Adams made a statement of intent by paying a six-figure sum to Bristol Rovers for the relatively-unknown teenage striker Bobby Zamora.

Even last summer, the club smashed a 30-year club transfer record three times in a matter of weeks, culminating in Craig Mackail-Smith, turning down both Leicester and West Ham in favour of coming to the Amex.

With the Albion very much in play-off contention in the Championship, has the time come again for a big move?

I believe it has, and as last summer proved and the on-going success of the Amex, money isn’t the issue it was in years gone by.

Conservative estimates say that promotion to the Premier League nets a club at least £40million, not even taking the parachute payments into consideration in the event of relegation.

Neither Tony Bloom’s wealth nor devotion to the Albion is in question, nor is his desire for a big punt, so should nothing surprise the Albion faithful?

From the start of the transfer window, there are, give-or-take, 20 weeks before the end of the season. I think Tony and Gus Poyet should make the short trip to Stamford Bridge and sit down and make Nicolas Anelka an offer.

Put him on a mutually-agreed flat wage for the 20 weeks but if he gets the Albion into the top flight, either automatically or via the play-offs, he gets handsomely rewarded out of the £40million the Albion would get.

For a player coming towards the end of an illustrious career, it represents one final challenge and a very lucrative one if successful.

Cynics might ask the question why would Anelka come to the Amex? They probably asked that all those years ago about Bobby Smith and Cloughie.

The BBC sexist? Perish the thought.

But actually, yes. To publish the shortlist for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year without any female candidates, despite the achievements of Jessica Ennis, Rebecca Adlington and Sarah Stevenson, is bizarre, and almost has the corporation returning to the days of the potters wheel and the test card.

Apparently, it’s all about opinions, and I’m sure a number of sports fans might have changed their opinion of the BBC as a result.