‘The nightmare is over’ as West Brom agree £60m takeover deal

Credit: West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion has agreed a £60m takeover deal that brings the contentious reign of Guochuan Lai to an end.

Florida-based entrepreneur and investor Shilen Patel and his father Dr Kiran C. Patel, have acquired a 87.8% stake in the parent company of the club with their firm Bilkul Football WBA. The Hindi word “bilkul” means “absolutely” or “completely”.

Action for Albion, the fan-led group which has organised several protests over their concerns about the ownership of the club, wrote on Twitter/X: “The nightmare is over. A new dawn has begun. Can we be the first to welcome Mr Patel and Bilkul Football to the Albion family. Thanks to everyone for your support and commitment.”

The takeover has been approved by the EFL with Shilen Patel to be named Chairman of West Brom when the deal completes next week.

Patel is a serial investor with experience in technology, healthcare, sport, real estate, finance, food & beverage, and numerous other sectors across five continents. He has owned a minority shareholding in Serie A club Bologna FC 1909 since 2014.

He said: “I am thrilled and grateful to have reached an agreement to become the custodian of West Bromwich Albion Football Club. The club’s exceptional history, support, and potential set it apart even here in the cradle of football.

“My goal is to help the club achieve a future worthy of its history as a pioneering top-flight club that marshals the pride and passion that have defined the Albion for generations.

“I am excited to get started at The Hawthorns and look forward to the deal completing next week.”

Fans have been very vocal about chairman and controlling shareholder Guochuan Lai, after he missed several repayment deadlines for a £4.95m loan.

Lai took out the loan in March 2021 to help another of his companies – Wisdom Smart Corporation, through the pandemic.

The chairman – who has been very absent from The Hawthorns – said the money would be returned with £50,000 interest by 31st December 2022. This date was set after Lai postponed repayment from September 2021.

Albion had also taken out another disclosed loan from US-based investment group MSD Holdings in November, on top of the £20m it secured at an interest rate of 10% APR to finance the club’s “general business operations” in November 2022. Parachute payments also expired at the end of last season resulting in first-team squad members being offloaded to balance the books.

The Baggies will host Southampton at The Hawthorns on Friday 16 at 8pm.