London, Aug 5: English football club West Bromwich Albion has been bought by a Chinese company, the club confirmed on Friday on its website.
WBA, known as the “Baggies” has been sold to a Chinese investment group headed by Guochuan Lai, said the statement. It added that the 42-year-old entrepreneur is the controlling shareholder in new owners, Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Limited. The club aims to usher in an “exciting new phase of the club’s development” .
WBA said current chairman Jeremy Peace, has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity to assist with the transition to new ownership during the 2016/17 season but has stepped down from his board positions in relation to the club, reports Xinhua.
Guochuan Lai commented: “I am excited and privileged to have the chance to become the new owner of this great club. We have a strong squad, loyal fans and a unique culture. My immediate priorities will be to maintain the club’s stable structure, respecting its well-run ture and its heritage. I have no intention of changing the club’s ethos.
“There are already strong links between Chi and West Bromwich Albion, which began with an historic tour to Chi in May 1978 when the club accepted an invitation from the Chinese Government and became the first English club to tour Chi in modern history. “I am proud that I will be the first mainland-Chinese owner of a Premier League club. This historic deal will result in a rapid and significant increase in interest in the club in Chi, which should lead to attractive commercial opportunities.”
“Meanwhile the club will be uniquely positioned to take its well-regarded training system to Chi, helping to identify and develop more talented young players in the future,” he added.
The club finished the 2015/16 season in 14th place in the 20-club English Premier league. IANS