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West Brom agree £60m takeover to end Guochuan Lai’s turbulent reign

A general view of West Brom's home stadium the Hawthorns
A general view of West Brom's home stadium the Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion have agreed a £60 million takeover with Florida-based businessman Shilen Patel, to finally end the turbulent reign of Guochuan Lai.

Patel has reached an agreement to buy an 87.8 per cent shareholding in the Championship club’s parent company, West Bromwich Albion Group Limited, with the takeover set to be ratified next week.

Telegraph Sport reported last month that Patel was the front runner to buy the club and he has now thrashed out a deal to bring Lai’s tenure to an end. Patel, 43, will be in the boardroom for Friday’s home game against Southampton.

Patel, who will also be named Chairman of the football club, is a serial investor with experience in technology, healthcare, sport, real estate, finance, food & beverage, and numerous other sectors across five continents.

He said: “I am thrilled and grateful to have reached an agreement to become the custodian of West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

“The club’s exceptional history, support, and potential set it apart even here in the cradle of football.

“My goal is to help the club achieve a future worthy of its history as a pioneering top-flight club that marshals the pride and passion that have defined the Albion for generations.

“I am excited to get started at The Hawthorns and look forward to the deal completing next week.”

Lai acquired the West Midlands club from Jeremy Peace for over £200 million in July 2016.

He has come under heavy scrutiny after declining to pay back a £5 million loan which was paid to one of his companies in June 2021.

There is also an outstanding loan from the club to Peace’s company WBA Holdings Ltd which now stands at £5 million after interest. A further £2 million was taken out in September 2021, with Lai borrowing money from an independent lender that is not owed to the club.

Lai has also been unable to provide investment outside of television money and parachute payments, while borrowing over £20 million from American investment company MSD Holdings Limited, plus an additional loan last month.

West Brom are currently fifth in the Championship table under their highly-regarded head coach Carlos Corberan. They face Southampton at home on Friday night.

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