Top-tier soccer club West Bromwich Albion is set to become the latest in a string of English teams to be bought by Chinese investors.
The bid by Chinese entrepreneur Guochuan Lai, made through his investment group Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Ltd., has been accepted by the club’s owner, Jeremy Peace. The terms of the agreement are not known, but Peace was thought to have been seeking 150 million pounds ($197 million) when he offered the club for sale last year.
The deal has to be approved by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority and by English soccer’s top division, the Premier League.
“I am proud that I will be the first mainland-Chinese owner of a Premier League club,” said Lai in a statement. “This historic deal will result in a rapid and significant increase in interest in the club in China, which should lead to attractive commercial opportunities.”
Peace has resigned as chairman and will be replaced by John Williams, the former chairman and chief executive of Blackburn Rovers soccer club.
The deal follows three others involving English soccer squads and Chinese investors in the past year. Wolverhampton Wanderers was bought last week by Fosun International, and Tony Xia nabbed Aston Villa in June. In December, Chinese consortium CMC invested 265 million pounds in Manchester City.