Express & Star

'West Bromwich Albion Sports Towns' being built in China

A series of new eco-developments named ‘West Bromwich Albion Sports Soccer Towns’ are going to be built in China.

Last updated

Palm, an eco-town development company affiliated with Albion owner Guochuan Lai, has already signed a deal with a governing body in the Guizhou Province to erect its first development.

The company, which was nurtured into a leading landscape architecture firm under Lai’s two-decade tenure, plans to build ‘five or six’ eco-towns in total.

Palm used their affiliation with the Albion brand to help win the contract and the club will help guide the start-up of the new developments.

The Baggies will import their expertise once the eco-towns are built and there are plans for Albion coaches to travel to China and help teach the locals how to play and coach football.

The club are expected to receive a slice of the revenue generated from the eco-town projects, although what percentage and how much the contract is worth is not yet clear.

The Chinese government are eager to build eco-towns with a focus on sport in order to unclog their vast cities choking with pollution.

It is hoped that building these developments will help nurture Palm’s relationship with their government and win the company even more lucrative contracts in the future.

Palm was founded in 1984 and Lai spent two decades as its managing director before officially leaving the company in 2014 to focus on private investment, although he remains director of a number of subsidiary companies.

Guochuan Lai at Albion's game with Tottenham last season.

Albion were officially taken over last August by Yunyi Guokai Sports Development Ltd, a new company set up by Lai for the purchase of the club from Jeremy Peace. The sale cost in the region of £175-200million.

During that takeover, a statement from the club read: “Palm intends to place football facilities at the heart of communities, helping to accelerate the Chinese government’s plans to develop football in the country and providing significant future commercial and cultural opportunities for the club.”

This new contract is the first sign of those plans beginning to come to fruition.

Lai is hoping to help Palm build major football academies and eco-towns in China by winning lucrative government contracts because he can promise expert training from a Premier League club.