American consortium expressed interest in West Brom takeover

An American consortium is among two parties who have expressed an interest in buying Albion but have been put off by the asking price.

Guochuan Lai
Guochuan Lai

The Express & Star understands US investors, who remain interested in the club, approached Baggies owner Guochuan Lai about a possible takeover last season.

Lai is believed to be willing to sell the club he bought from Jeremy Peace for around £200million in 2016.

But the Chinese businessman, who made his money in the development of Eco Towns, wants to recoup as much of his initial outlay as possible.

It is understood at least two parties approached Lai last season, one expressing an interest in purchasing Albion outright and the other in securing a minority stake.

The American consortium, which is said to have an advisor with vast experience of the Premier League, discussed a full takeover but Lai’s valuation of the club – which the Express & Star understands exceeds £150million – proved the stumbling block.

With promotion yet to be won at that point, it is thought the group were only willing to pay a much lower initial sum for the club, with the promise of a more substantial fee if Premier League status was maintained. Lai, however, wanted more guaranteed cash up front.

And while the Express & Star understands the investors remain interested in the club, the situation has now been reversed, with the group reluctant to pay what Lai wants while the team’s top flight future is in the balance.

The American consortium is continuing to monitor the situation and negotiations could resume later in the season, when Albion’s Premier League fate may be clearer. But Lai would still likely need to drop his asking price and currently talks are not active.

Alongside the American investors, it is understood that at least one other group has contacted Albion’s hierarchy to find out how much they want for the club within the past 12 months.

But those talks have not moved forward after they discovered the asking price.

Lai’s interest in Albion has been severely questioned in recent years with the owner absent from matches.

Fans have also been frustrated with a perceived lack of investment in the club.

Head coach Slaven Bilic and technical director Luke Dowling had a transfer war chest of just £20million in the summer.

The Baggies did manage to sign nine players after committing to spend around 45million over the next five years.

But that figure is still significantly less than what many promoted teams have spent in the past – with the likes of Wolves, Villa and Sheffield United all spending big to stay in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Albion have written to the FA for clarity over the controversial refereeing decisions in their defeat at Manchester United on Saturday.

Referee David Coote awarded Albion a penalty after Bruno Fernandes fouled Conor Gallagher but then overturned his decision.

The Baggies also feel Gallagher was fouled in the build-up to United’s penalty, which was given for a handball by Darnell Furlong.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News