West Brom comment: Motives for buying the Baggies are laid bare

Guochuan Lai finally saw the Baggies win last month, and he looked like he enjoyed it.

Lai in a buoyant mood outside The Hawthorns after the 3-1 win over Arsenal. Picture: Debbie Green

Photos of Albion’s owner beaming from ear to ear outside the ground after the 3-1 win over Arsenal and giving fans the thumbs up on the M40 down to London suggest he had a good time.

When the 42-year-old businessman bought Jeremy Peace’s 88 per cent majority stake last summer, there were question marks surrounding his motives – as there always is when a relatively unknown person buys a football team.

The Chinese government may have been encouraging its businessmen to get involved in the game because it wants to be a ‘football superpower’ by 2050, but why would a Shanghai entrepreneur want to spend around £175million on a team from the West Midlands?

Even if Lai did somehow remember Albion’s ground-breaking tour to China in 1978, which took place when he was a toddler, it’s unlikely a man worth hundreds of millions of pounds enters any venture for solely sentimental reasons.

At the time, the club admitted there was a commercially-beneficial aspect to his interest, and that Lai was hoping to use Albion’s expertise for his own gain, but the details surrounding that remained hazy. Now though, we have a better idea.

Lai is hoping to help build major football academies in China, and he will try to win these lucrative contracts because he can promise expert training from a Premier League club.

Albion are well-placed to do this. Not only is their category one academy one of the most highly-regarded in the country, they already have the ‘Pass it Forward’ initiative set up by former commercial director Adrian Wright that delivers elite football coaching to thousands of schoolchildren in India.

This sort of project is very much within Lai’s wheelhouse. He made his millions with Palm, a company that specialise in developing eco-towns, but now he’s expanding into his government’s next big project, football.

In a recent interview, chairman John Williams said: “You can see what’s happening with football in China, at all levels, from the Super League down to the birth of young player and academy strategies. I think it’s a very good place for Lai to be. He’s very much into the eco-town projects which are all about outdoors, health, and fitness. It fits on a number of levels.”

This begs the question, what are Albion getting out of these potential academy deals? Well, just like their efforts in India, they will have access to thousands of young footballers with an opportunity to cherry-pick the best talent, but we are many years away from those players being good enough for the Premier League. The main benefit is commercial.

Albion’s shirt sponsors for this season are UK-K8.com, a Chinese online casino, and last month they announced IGOFX – an Asian currency trader – as another sponsor.

Thanks to Peace, the club is operating from a sound financial platform, and now it will be making even more money from these commercial deals in the Far East.

Supporters will welcome this globalisation, but on one proviso. With broadcast money sky-rocketing at the same time, they will expect a significant amount to be reimbursed into the playing squad too, starting this summer.

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Comments for: "West Brom comment: Motives for buying the Baggies are laid bare"

Captain Mardon International

From the no-smoking sponsor to Coucher and Shaw to global status. It looks to be going well.

Kev in Mallorca

Yo bin lost at sea?



And the new nugget of information we have gleaned from this "laying bare" is...er...hmmm...nothing!

Chinese government encouraging companies to invest in football for future Chinese league benefits...we already know!

Sponsorship deals with Asian buisnesses...we already know!

The "chance to cherrypick" any future player that looks lke they could cut it, to give Premier League experience to...still no revelations!

Albion guarenteed getting ENOUGH significant funds to spend on a few quality players this Summer...we still DON'T know (for certain)!

Sometimes no news is good news, this is just no news!

brandhall baggie

To be fair PJ we did know about all these things, except for the contracts that the Chinese government are looking to hand out to bring the football world to the youth etc. be inspired by the fact we are a club being mentioned on a global stage now, as for money, well time will tell but things do not happen overnight unless you get some mad rich sheiks involved and that we have not got......we are in even more better shape than we were with JP and that is because this guy can move us to another level, JP did the ground work, business is not difficult, you speculate to accumulate and the club has gone that way since being in the prem full time after yo-yoing for a few seasons, sometimes you have to remember where we have come from and I would rather have what we have now then looking at the other clubs around us who are a million miles away from where we are......

The Real Bully Hoo.

This is very much what I was talking about yesterday. A quality piece that tells us things we don't know. Well done E&S, this is much better than the invented transfer stories. And although there's no name on it, well done whoever wrote this because as well as the content it is a well written piece in good English.


It's the work experience lad mate....he's snuck one in without it being seen. Needless to say I expect normal service to be resumed later....

The Real Bully Hoo.

He's got a bl**dy nerve coming on here Andy and spouting non-partisan,knowledgeable football talk.

We Only Need One Half!

With the World's two most populous countries on board, China and India, who have a combined population of 2.5 billion, and given the right tutelage, surely it's only a matter of time before we start seeing lads who will be likened in skill levels to your Ronaldos and Messi's playing in Blue and White Stripes.

With the numbers involved it has to be an odds on bet.


When seeing the headline to this story I too thought,"Oh, this could be interesting".......zzzzzzZZZZZZZ.

CantelloRocket 78

Yes, this is a well-written and enlightening piece, and highlights something I've touched on before, namely seeing the ' big ' picture.

Some have complained about the Baggies and Tony Pulis ' only wanting to avoid relegation ', and that they'd ' rather see us play in a lower league, if the football was more entertaining ' - but keeping our status in the Top Flight with our current limited resources can bring great rewards and opportunities in the future, as this article touches on.

The Baggies worldwide profile and status could strengthen the club in so many ways, but it also highlights the extreme importance of seriously strengthening the squad this Summer - TP needs and deserves such backing, and now is as good a time as any to seize our opportunites, strike whilst the iron's hot, so to speak...!!

The Real Bully Hoo.

That's the 64 thousand dollar question Rocket. And we'll only get the answer when the transfer window closes. It's not about how many players we're linked to but how many players the manager wants that we seriously go after.

The way we swooped for Livermore was impressive, the way we failed to follow up on it not so impressive.

If it was merely keeping our powder dry in readiness for this window then I can live with that but nothing has been proved yet.


Don't get too excited we have heard it all before.Me who has little faith!!

Big Pete

Why do some people keep saying we have "limited resources?" It is meaningless, for a start - even REal Madrid has limited resources, it just that they seem to be greater than their competitors. As I keep saying here we have huge resources now, huge compared with everyone except the top half a dozen on so in the UK premier league and less than that in most of the European leagues. The players are out there at prices we can afford, certainly enough of them to give us a good chance of a top half finish next season, which would be a good result in my opinion. Our attack is weaker than some of the teams below us and our excellent defence is getting older and will need a bit of reinforcing, as will mid field. £30-40 million should do it and the club will have considerably more than that coming in on top of recent year incomes.

The ground is the issue, but the fan base won't grow without our playing attractive football, which at last we are trying to. We ought to get up to 40,000 seats.

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