Exclusive: Kevin Phillips worried by West Brom ownership puzzle after shareholder statement
We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Kevin Phillips is concerned that West Brom’s minority shareholders, Shareholders 4 Albion, have been left in the dark over the club’s ownership mystery.
The puzzle has been rumbling on for several weeks now and it all started when former Birmingham Mail journalist Chris Lepkowski and radio host Adrian Goldberg dug up information from financial data gatherers Orbis, which claims that Guochuan Lai is no longer in control of the Baggies and instead the power lies with Ms Yasha Ge [The Liquidator podcast].
S4A have since released a statement to say they are writing to the Premier League to express their frustration over how poorly Albion have communicated with them when pressed on the issue of Lai’s ownership.
S4A said they “have seen evidence which suggests that there may have been a change in the ultimate ownership and control” and “have been left with no choice” but to refer the matter to the Premier League.
Former Baggies striker Phillips wants to hear some clarity from the Black Country club as soon as possible to end the speculation surrounding Lai’s ownership but has ruled out the possibility of it affecting Slaven Bilic and his players.
“If you’re a shareholder and you don’t know what’s going on then there’s a concern,” Phillips told West Brom News.
“There should be a statement to give clarity to everyone.
“Does it affect the manager and the players? From my experience, no. What goes on upstairs, as a player, you can’t help it, you’ve still got a job to do on the pitch.
“As a manager, as long as he’s not getting it in his ear left, right and centre, as long as he’s being left alone to concentrate on the football then there’s no effect.
“But from a supporter’s and the board’s point of view, or in general, I hope a statement is released in the next couple of weeks to clarify what the actual situation is.”
Mark Jenkins stepped down from his role as West Brom’s chief executive in early August and has been replaced by Xu “Ken” Ke.
Could the lack of communication be down to that change in personnel?
Goldberg reported via his personal Twitter account earlier this week that S4A’s chairman had been “castigated” in a letter that was sent to the shareholders by the Baggies because a letter was hand-delivered to Ken.
Their "crime"? Daring to hand deliver letter for new Chief Exec Ke Xu (aka Ken) at Training Ground after initial letter ignored. They were just asking for an informal meeting. They also report that a shareholder whose family own a significant number of shares… 2/5
— Adrian Goldberg (@GoldbergRadio) November 9, 2020
Would Jenkins have reacted the same way?
Jenkins has had his critics during his time at The Hawthorns but before he stepped down from his role in August, the former chief executive was widely praised for his role in helping stabilise Albion’s finances and get them back to the Premier League without splashing too much cash.
He was also someone who at least communicated with the fans and the media every now and then but with Ken and Lai, it’s been nothing but radio silence.
West Brom need to come forward and mop up this mess as soon as possible.
If there is no story here, then say that and prove to S4A there is nothing to worry about.
But if the club’s cryptic behaviour is only leading to more and more questions being raised and yet more increased frustration with the way things are being run at The Hawthorns.
In other West Brom news, there’s been another twist in the Baggies’ ownership mystery.