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West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards raises West Brom ownership in parliament

West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards has raised West Brom's off field issues in parliament - and has urged the Government to introduce new regulation around club ownership.

West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards speaking in the Commons
West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards speaking in the Commons

The Conservative MP has been working closely with Shareholders for Albion and Action for Albion around concerns over owner Guochuan Lai and loans from the club.

Lai has missed two deadlines on a £4.95 million loan taken from the club - and last month the club confirmed it had secured a £20 million loan from MSD Holdings to fund day to day running costs.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday morning, the MP for West Bromwich East said: "West Brom fans are deeply concerned with the club's ownership.

"The owner took out a £5 million loan to fund another business and it is yet to be repaid. The club has taken out a high interest loan of £20 million to fund the day to day running of the club, against the stadium and name.

"Will be right honourable friend bring forward the government's response to the fan led review and introduce a regulator to give fans the power to stop owners abusing club assets in this way, and penalise owners whose business decisions are not in the best interests of the football club."

In response, Cabinet Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, Stuart Andrew MP, congratulated the MP for her work and said the Government will soon be setting out plans for reform in football.

He explained: "I want to congratulate the member for her work in this area and the support of her local club, and working with groups like Action for Albion and Shareholders for Albion.

"We will set out plans for reform in a white paper to be published in the next few weeks, the white paper will include strong action on owners and directors to ensure they are suitable custodians for clubs, and to avoid harm to fans and local communities like she has described."

Earlier this month, Albion CEO Ron Gourlay addressed a host of questions on the club's finances - and explained what the £20 loan is being used for.

He revealed there may be a scenario where the loan isn't used - but is a safety net if the club doesn't get promoted with parachute payment money ending this summer.

He said: "The MSD is about giving us a position to finance the club going forward if we don’t get promoted.

“I’m the chief executive, I don’t own any of the shares, I didn’t spend £200m-plus on the club, I can give advice of what I think of the route forward.

“But ultimately he will have to make that decision. In the meantime I will do what we believe is best for the club and I we’re doing OK in the present time.

“I’m aware of the challenges, I understand the frustration of the fans, I don’t hide away from that, I discuss it with the assembly, the Action For Albion guys, I will do my best to explain the situation."

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