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West Brom CEO Ron Gourlay convinced Lai will repay £5m loan

Chief executive Ron Gourlay says he’s ‘absolutely convinced’ a £4.9million loan Albion made to owner Guochuan Lai will be repaid in full and in time for the January transfer window.

Guochuan Lai the owner of West Bromwich Albion .
Guochuan Lai the owner of West Bromwich Albion .

The Baggies confirmed yesterday that Lai took £4,950,000 out the club and ploughed it into Wisdom Smart Corporation Limited, a company related to him.

The loan, which was made in March 2021, had the interest fixed at £50,000 and was due to be repaid on September 15, 2021.

That date, though, has since been put back to December 21, 2022.

The news Lai has taken money out of Albion has led to huge concern among fans.

Gourlay, though, insists Lai only did it due to the coronavirus pandemic. And the CEO said it has not stopped the club moving forward.

“The businesses he (Lai) has in China and Hong Kong are very much in the hospitality environments,” said Gourlay who wasn’t employed by Albion when the loan was taken out.

“I think it was during that period of time, income from those type of businesses was shot down.

“I think he needed some revenue and the club was one of his other businesses that had that revenue. It had the cash in the bank.

“I wasn’t involved in it. Buy my understanding is that the money will be returned.

“That has come from the owner. From the owner to the board and from the owner to the fans.

“I’m absolutely convinced that money will come in.”

In the June after Lai had taken out the loan, Valerien Ismael was appointed boss.

But that summer Albion didn’t spend a transfer fee with all their additions either frees or loans.

Asked if the £5million Lai borrowed could have helped Ismael find a striker he badly needed, Gourlay said: “It depends if there was a striker out that was suitable to what the club needed at that time.

“From my point of the view, the way we have gone out and spent £25m/£30m on players every season for the last four or five seasons, had to stop.

“I think under Valerien, we had to be more cute in the market place and we need to continue that.

“We need to be more smart in the market place.

“We have got to steady the ship and set sail for a better future. That is what we are doing.

“I think people can see that to a certain extent.

“Going forward I would like to think they can see how we have stabilised recruitment and how we have gone about signing players this summer.

“It’s not just about having the money, it’s about spending it well. And we have spent it badly in the past.

“That has hurt the club, that is the area that has hurt the club more than any other.

“We have spent £30m/40m on players that haven’t performed anywhere near the level they should.

“That is where the pain has been. And for me we are addressing that.

“The two players we brought in this summer (John Swift and Jed Wallace), we planned that. We knew where we had to improve.”

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