Politicians on all sides back plan to protect The Hawthorns from a quick sale

Politicians across the political divide are backing the plan for The Hawthorns to be an asset of community value to prevent a quick sale.

The Hawthorns
The Hawthorns

Fears over the 125-year-old ground's future under the club's owners led Conservative Charlemont Councillor Les Trumpeter to ask if Sandwell Council can start the ball rolling next week.

The first MP to back the plan was Conservative Dudley South MP and Albion fan Mike Wood said: "I think all fans are uncomfortable with the club’s owner securing borrowing for his other businesses against our stadium.

"Hopefully the loans will be paid back on schedule and our club will be unaffected, but we really can’t take any chances."

He added: "The Hawthorns is a special ground with so many memories for all supporters, but it also has a huge value to the wider value and so I hope Sandwell Council will give it this protection."

Sandwell Council Labour leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael will devote part of the full council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Former Sandwell Labour Parliamentary candidate Ian Cooper first attended matches at The Hawthorns in the 1970s and was quick to back Conservative Councillor Les Trumpeter's plan.

He said: "Like so many fans, I've spent many hours watching the Baggies, from my first game with my dad in the Johnny Giles era, then cheering on Cunningham and Regis then all the way through to the Premiership era. It forms part of my identity.

"Making The Hawthorns a community asset will install an additional tripwire to warn against any unscrupulous move of this nature."

"Baggies fans need to be made aware of this threat to our ground, which is currently free of mortgages and loans. We need to tell the absent Chinese ownership that the Hawthorns is not for sale. It's a cynical move to treat this great club as a cash cow from a disinterested owner who's keen to sell."

He added: "The owner, Mr Lai must be made aware that such a move will destroy the club's relationship with the fans and ultimately impoverish its value as a saleable asset."

Even the Scottish Independence Party has joined the political consensus over the Hawthorns.

Paisley based WBA fan and Scottish Independence Party support Davie Brown said: "We need to all work together across the political divide and on both sides of the border to keep the Hawthorns in the club's hands, we have all seen how ruthless businessmen enter football and end up getting the club's to lease the ground they have owned for generations. We are better than that."

Club accounts revealed last month showed WBA loaned £4.95m to a company owned by chairman and owner Guochuan Lai, who bought the club in 2016 for £200 million.

After the Express and Star broke the news about the Asset of Community Value plan fans took to social media to express their support for the plan.

Baggies fan Chris Hall said: "This gives us more protection if Lai should ever decide to try and sell the stadium as it is looking to have The Hawthorns classified as an Asset Of Community Value. Hugely important, please support it.

"I helped to get my local pub, the Haden Cross Inn registered as an asset of community value back in 2015 and renewed in 2020 by Sandwell Council so I am sure the council will process the Hawthorns accordingly."

Another fan added: "Please support this. It is the start of a process to obtain a ACV (asset of community value) on The Hawthorns to protect it from any potential overnight firesale by Lai."

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