Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has ruled out handing James Beattie a free transfer.

West Bromwich Albion are understood to be keen on signing the 32-year-old striker following their promotion back to the Premier League.

Coates dismissed speculation Stoke could allow Beattie, who was signed for an initial £2m from Sheffield United in January 2009, to go on a free just to get him off their wage bill.

He told The Sentinel: "There is absolutely no chance of that happening. We value him as a player and, if he were to leave, we would expect a sizeable fee.

"Clubs are bound to be interested because he is a goalscorer and they are hard to find. Everyone is looking for them. It is the most difficult job in any football club to fill.

"The fact he is a year older makes no difference. He has never relied on his pace, but he has always had the ability to score. He has lots of football ahead of him."