Express & Star

The £200m West Brom gamble that failed to pay off for Guochuan Lai

It was only a year on from his 2016 takeover Guochuan Lai was first offered a route out of Albion.

Guochuan Lai

The club’s controlling shareholder was approached by a US investor prepared to pay £200million – roughly the same as the Chinese businessman had paid Jeremy Peace 12 months previously – for his 88 per cent stake.

Lai rejected the offer out of hand.

“My information is there was an enquiry,” explained Baggies chairman John Williams when news of the bid emerged. “Our majority shareholder made it clear he wanted to retain control of the club and continue his plans for its ongoing development.”

As he now finally prepares to depart The Hawthorns some six-and-a-half years later, it is difficult to believe Lai does not reflect on that moment and wince.

The amount he will now personally receive as a result of Shilen Patel’s takeover will be less than a 10th of that offered in 2017, with the bulk of the £60m package the Florida entrepreneur has put together for his shareholding instead used to pay off the club’s debts totalling £40m.