West Brom fans have rightly pointed the finger at owner Guochuan Lai for the club’s miserable start to life back in the Premier League.
Slaven Bilic and Luke Dowling struggled to upgrade the squad in the last transfer window from one that barely won promotion from the Championship into one that’s capable of avoiding instant relegation.
Several months later, Albion are 19th, have one win to their name, are six points from safety and have firefighter Sam Allardyce in charge.
Lai’s failure to invest in the Black Country club is a large factor behind the struggles but there are still issues stemming back from when Jeremy Peace presided over the Albion.
By the time Peace sold West Brom to Lai in 2016 for £200million, a lot of fans were fed up with the British businessman’s inability to take the club that extra step forward and really establish themselves as a Premier League club that can challenge for domestic silverware or even a spot in Europe.
Peace never really pumped that much cash into West Brom, who were proudly one of the only Premier League clubs with no debt during his time in the boardroom.
But during Peace’s reign, the former Albion owner and chairman took a loan from the club, via the Albion’s holding company, that was initially worth £3.7million.
After Lai bought the Baggies in 2016, he inherited the debt and according to an update by the Express & Star, that debt is now worth £4.7million.
West Brom’s accounts reportedly show that there is ‘no fixed date for repayment’ and the loan is ‘payable on demand’. With Lai installing his own men on the Albion board, it seems that the demand will never be made unless Lai is ready to pay up.
Why didn’t Peace ensure that part of the deal for Lai to buy West Brom was that the debt was paid within two years or upon relegation from the Premier League?
Peace was very careful about who he sold West Brom to but really, it just seems like he wanted to wash his hands of a club he once dubbed “a mid-table Championship club that is massively over-performing”.
That £4.7million would be massive to us now but Lai isn’t going to pay it back any time soon it seems.
After selling up to a Chinese businessman who can’t/won’t invest in the club and failing to ensure that loan will be paid back at a good time, Peace has held back Albion more than he could have ever imagined.
But, still. He must be delighted with the £200million he pocketed from the sale. There’s absolutely no way West Brom was worth that then, nor now.
He saw the money, didn’t care about what happened to the club he’d spent a very long time at, and ran.
In other West Brom news, Kevin Phillips admits he likes this Premier League player who’s been linked to Albion by Kaveh Solhekol.