Premier League: West Brom Albion announce sale to Chinese investors - Firstpost
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Premier League: West Brom Albion announce sale to Chinese investors


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West Bromwich Albion have agreed to sell the club to Chinese investment group Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Limited, the Premier League side announced on Friday.

No financial details have been announced, but former chairman Jeremy Peace was reportedly looking for 150 million pounds ($197.1 million, 177 million euros) when he put the club on the market last year.

The deal is subject to approval from Britain's Financial Conduct Authority and the Premier League.

File photo of West Bromwich Albion players. AP

File photo of West Bromwich Albion players. AP

"I am proud that I will be the first mainland-Chinese owner of a Premier League club," said Chinese entrepreneur Guochuan Lai, who will become West Brom's new owner, in a statement.

"This historic deal will result in a rapid and significant increase in interest in the club in China, which should lead to attractive commercial opportunities," Lai said.

In an effort to reassure fans, Lai vowed that he had "no intention of changing the club's ethos".

Former owner Peace, who had held an 88 percent stake in the club, has resigned as chairman and will be replaced by former Blackburn Rovers chairman and chief executive John Williams.

The deal is the latest in a series of inroads made by China in English football.

Second-tier clubs Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers – both of whom play in the same Midlands region as West Brom – were both taken over by Chinese investors in recent weeks.

Wolves were bought last week by Fosun International, while Chinese businessman Tony Xia took charge of Villa in June.

Birmingham City, another Midlands clubs, are currently in talks with Asian investors seeking to buy the club from Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, who was jailed for money-laundering in 2014.

Meanwhile, Manchester City announced a 265 million pounds investment deal with Chinese consortium CMC last December.

Peace, who had been West Brom's chairman for 14 years, said, "I believe this deal will enable Albion to build on the strong, sustainable foundations that have been the cornerstone of the club's progress.

"I have been chairman for 14 years and I am obviously pleased that in that time we have become an established top-flight club. Now, having spent time with Guochuan, I believe he is the right man to take Albion forward."

Lai built up landscaping firm Palm Eco-Town Development Company Limited before retiring in May 2014 to focus on private investment.

Palm is listed on the Chinese Stock Exchange as being worth 1.8 billion pounds.

West Brom, English champions once in 1920 and five-time FA Cup winners, were close to being sold to a Chinese consortium last year, before Peace broke off negotiations.

The club, who announced pre-tax profits of 7.6 million pounds in April, have been playing in the Premier League since 2010.

They finished 14th under manager Tony Pulis last season and open their 2016-17 campaign away to Crystal Palace a week on Saturday.

First Published On : Aug 5, 2016 19:25 IST

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