West Brom ramp up search for new owner to prevent January fire sale

West Brom ramp up search for new owner to prevent January fire sale
West Brom’s owner Guochuan Lai is battling to find a buyer before the end of the year - Getty Images /Tony Marshall

West Bromwich Albion are ramping up their search for a new owner to avoid a fire sale of players in the January transfer window.

West Brom are under increasing pressure to raise funds and the Championship club is in talks with a number of potential buyers to conclude a £50 million takeover before the end of the year.

Parties from America and the Middle East have held initial discussions with the club over a deal, with conversations said to be ongoing.

It is understood that the club’s financial problems are increasing after they failed to raise enough funds through player sales in the summer transfer window.

Dara O’Shea was sold to Burnley for £7 million - a figure below his release clause - high earner Jake Livermore’s contract expired and a number of players including Karlan Grant were loaned out, but there were no other major departures.

Middlesbrough made a £3 million bid for winger Jed Wallace, while Stoke City submitted at least two offers for striker Brandon Thomas-Asante. Coventry City also pursued midfielder John Swift shortly before the window closed.

Yet the decision was made to resist what were considered as derisory offers and ensure Carlos Corberan’s squad remained competitive.

As a result, there are now major concerns over future cash-flow with the club already under pressure to sell players when the transfer window reopens in January.

West Brom’s unpopular owner Guochuan Lai is now battling to find a buyer for the club before the end of the year, to prevent Corberan’s squad from being decimated further.

WBA Group director Xu Ke is leading the sale process, and talks with some parties have been held in-person. West Brom has been made available for between £50-60 million, but at this stage there are no parties close to entering due diligence.

Lai, who is based in China, has declined to invest his own money and wants the club to be self-sustainable. He has also failed to repay a £5 million loan and is under growing pressure from supporters to sell up.

West Brom agreed a £20 million loan from American private equity firm MSD in January which is spread over four years. The loan was to be put towards “running costs”, with parachute payments from the Premier League running out this summer.

Due to their restricted finances, Albion only signed three players during the summer transfer window, two of which were loan signings with the other joining as a free agent. Talks were also held with defender Kyle Bartley over a potential settlement on his £35,000-a-week contract but he has remained at The Hawthorns.

West Brom are currently 13th in the Championship table and face Watford on Wednesday night.