Paul Scharner backs idea of West Brom becoming a supporter-owned club
Paul Scharner has backed the possibility of West Brom becoming a supporter-owned club to wrestle control from Guochuan Lai.
Current owner Lai has become a deeply unpopular figure among Albion fans in recent years, with accusations of being too distant and not showing any ambition levelled against him.
Lai paid £175million for 88% of Albion’s shares in 2016 and, according to the Daily Mail, he was ready to sell up in January, but his £200million valuation scared off potential buyers.
The idea of supporters becoming involved to take over the club was mooted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, with unofficial Albion podcast ‘The Liquidator’ tweeting that they were “happy to see if we could drum up a business plan” to get it off the ground, mooting a £60million valuation now that the club has been relegated.
Former Albion favourite Scharner, who played at The Hawthorns between 2010-12, backed the proposal on his personal Twitter profile.
“It’s a great idea,” he wrote.
“I would love to see WBA as a supporter-owned club.”
It's a great idea. I would love to see WBA as a supporter owned club.
— Paul Scharner (@Scharns33) May 25, 2021
Supporter-owned clubs are common practice in countries like Germany, where a majority control by a single entity is outlawed, except for a few special exceptions.
This is something that has become increasingly called for in the English game as fans seek to establish a closer connection to their football clubs, which have become damaged by the growing commercialisation of the game.
There are even some in the English Football League now, such as Exeter City and AFC Wimbledon.
It’s a good idea, one we would welcome at West Brom to restore some identity in the club, but there would be numerous hurdles to overcome for this to be successful.
Raising the funds and making an acceptable offer to Lai would be one, but ensuring there is a continual supply of capital poured into the club would be another, especially in the modern game.