What next for Albion?

That is the difficult question the board of directors will be grappling with when they assemble next month for a two-day meeting away from the Amex.

There is nothing unusual about the meeting in itself. It happens after every season.

They gather to digest what has gone on in the months before and to discuss the vision for the months and years ahead.

Striking the right balance will just be that bit more challenging this time.

For years it was about being ready for the Premier League and getting there. Tick.

For the first two seasons it has been only about staying there. Tick.

Now comes the tricky bridge to cross for Chris Hughton and the players he ends up with in August, a bridge too far for many before that have found themselves falling into deep and treacherous waters.

Owner-chairman Tony Bloom (below) and his deputy, chief executive Paul Barber, are always thinking ahead, seeking improvement.

The Argus: When it was announced last September that Dan Ashworth had been lured from the FA to become the club's first technical director, he will not have signed up solely for survival.

It is the most important thing for a club of Albion's stature and Premier League infancy - but not the only thing.

Barber said: "One of the things we have been talking about since Dan has been here is what the next vision for the club is?

"That's a really important discussion for us to have as a board of directors this summer.

"Certainly for the first half decade I was here, preparing ourselves to play in the Premier League, to have a category one academy, putting ourselves in a position where women's Super League was a possibility and a reality, has been the internal and external mantra.

"That's a vision that has been very clear, very tangible, very easy for people to relate to.

"Now what is the next vision? Because staying in the Premier League isn't very inspiring to the outside world.

"Internally it's still very important, because people internally understand what it drives and how important it is.

"But our next challenge is to identify clearly and articulate clearly what the next vision is. And we need to make sure it is reasonable but aspirational, that it is exciting but achievable.

"All of those variables in-between are what we are debating. We don't want to set expectations so high that we set ourselves up to fail but what we don't want to either put out something or talk about something that people say 'Well is that it?

'After all these years of struggle, of hardship, of going through the lower leagues, is it just about surviving now?'

"That's quite a challenge and we are not the first club to have faced that challenge. I think people know now we will always be very honest.

"The chairman is very focused on what is important to the club. Staying in the Premier League is really important but he is also realistic enough to know it's very difficult.

"At some point in our future we may have to drop back down and fight to come back up. We hope we don't. We try to put in place all the things that make that as unlikely as possible.

"But this is the Premier League, as Stoke, West Brom, Swansea, Derby, Aston Villa, Newcastle have seen, it's not impossible for clubs bigger than ours to fall out of it."

Since working a six months notice period effectively curtailed to four with the blessing of the FA, where he held the same job title for six years, Ashworth has been assessing what needs to be done to make Albion better.

That has included one of the key aspects of his wide-ranging role. "Dan has been looking at recruitment with Paul Winstanley (head of recruitment) from the day he arrived," Barber (below) said.

The Argus: "He will have started to talk players with Paul, the manager, the chairman, and that work has been going on behind the scenes.

"Already there are a number of different targets identified and once again it's about strengthening the squad where we can, how we can.

"Dan will be integral to that process. The other thing he is very focused on is the development of young players and that's something he created his reputation from at West Brom.

"The same with England. Dan is the first person to give Gareth Southgate all the credit for what is happening with the senior team but people need to look deeper than just the senior team and what has happened with the younger teams since Dan took over as technical director there.

"His commitment to young talent is significant. He's already had many meetings with John Morling (academy chief) and Simon Rusk (under-23s coach) and the under-18s and under-16s coaches about the talent we have got in the pipeline, how we can bring that forward faster, what we need to do to make that talent pipeline even more productive over the years to follow.

"One of the significant things about bringing Dan in for Tony and I was having another very senior technical voice around the club overlooking all the things that are football in the club.

"It sounds on the outside obvious but you actually need to have a certain size of club and stature in order for that role to be truly effective.

"We felt we had reached that point, reached the Premier League, women's Super League, category one status, we've got state of the art facilities both at the stadium and training ground.

"We've got all the infrastructure in place, now we need to make the infrastructure even more productive and efficient, create even more value for money.

"In order to do that we felt we needed a more senior, technical voice, somebody that was independent if you like of the first team and academy teams - that could have a very clear vision."