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West Brom becomes the third West Midlands football club to be acquired by Chinese investors

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Premier League football club West Bromwich Albion (WBA) has become the latest West Midlands team to be acquired a Chinese investor.

Guochuan Lai’s Yunyi Guokai Sports Development Limited has bought 88 per cent of the club’s shares from outgoing owner Jeremy Peace.

The entrepreneur made his fortune with the development of Palm, a landscape design and construction company which is dedicated to eco-town development in China. It is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange with a value of £1.8bn (US$2.4bn, €2.1bn).

Building WBA’s presence in the football-hungry China is the priority for Guochuan, who plans to build football facilities in the heart of the eco-town communities he is designing to “accelerate the Chinese government’s plans to develop football in the country”.

Peace will remain in an advisory capacity during the transitional period, although he will be replaced as chair by former Blackburn Rovers boss John Williams. He said that Guochuan had a “passion for the game” and would help the club develop in an “increasingly global age”.

Guochuan said: “My immediate priorities will be to maintain the club’s structure, respecting the well-run nature and its heritage. I have no intention of changing the club’s ethos.

“This deal will result in a rapid and significant increase in interest in the club in China, which should lead to attractive commercial opportunities.”

The acquisition follows a spate of similar deals between Chinese businessmen and clubs in the region.

Last month, WBA’s nearest and fiercest rival Wolverhampton Wanderers was purchased by Fosun Group, while Birmingham-based Aston Villa – traditionally the biggest club in the area – was acquired by Tony Jiantong Xia.

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Premier League football club West Bromwich Albion (WBA) has become the latest West Midlands team to be acquired a Chinese investor.
West Brom finished 14th in the Premier League last season / Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport
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