Patel completes West Bromwich Albion takeover

New West Bromwich Albion owner Shilen Patel
Shilen Patel is also a minority shareholder of Bologna in Serie A

Shilen Patel has completed the takeover of West Bromwich Albion from Chinese businessman Guochuan Lai.

The American, now the Championship club’s majority shareholder, has also become the Baggies’ new chairman.

Bilkul Football WBA – a company owned by Florida-based entrepreneur Patel and his father Kiran Patel – has acquired an 87.8% shareholding in Albion.

“I am humbled to become the new custodian of West Bromwich Albion Football Club,” said Shilen Patel.

The Baggies have not played in the Premier League since being relegated at the end of the 2020-21 season, having twice lost their top-flight status under Lai.

But Albion are well placed in the battle for a Championship play-off place, lying fifth under head coach Carlos Corberan – 16 points off an automatic promotion place, although with a four-point cushion on the chasing pack.

The takeover, first announced by Albion on 16 February, has taken almost a fortnight to be finalised but, having been approved by the English Football League, Patel has now officially taken charge.

Patel also owns a minority shareholding in Italian Serie A club Bologna, which he has had since 2014.

BBC Sport originally reported in January that Patel had become a significant candidate to take control of the club from Lai, who had been owner since buying out Jeremy Peace in 2016.

‘Success does not occur overnight’

“Today marks the beginning of an exciting project for the club to regain its standing as a consistent Premier League presence,” Patel added.

“Success does not occur overnight, but it is my ambition to build on the club’s current and historical strengths and surround West Bromwich Albion with high quality stakeholders at home and globally.

“I am also fortunate to be inheriting and continuing the great work of The Albion Foundation at home and abroad.

“I am in awe of the opportunity to help write the next chapter in Baggies history and am committed to being a responsible, respectful, and effective steward of the club.”

The American has also previously invested in businesses across five continents including technology, healthcare, real estate, finance, food and beverages.

Where do Albion stand now?

Albion are in their fifth season out of six outside the Premier League, something they have not experienced in more than two decades.

They are no longer in receipt of parachute payments and fans remain furious at Lai’s failure to repay the £5m he owes from a loan received from the club following the Covid pandemic in March 2021.

In November, the Baggies confirmed they had taken out another loan for an unspecified amount from American investment group MSD Holdings, on top of the £20m they borrowed in December 2022, to help with “ongoing funding”.

Having already won over a fan base who had become increasingly disillusioned under the previous owners, Albion’s first task under the new Patel regime will be trying to take all three points off Midlands promotion rivals Coventry City on Friday.

Patel was at The Hawthorns for Albion’s last home game – the Friday night defeat by Southampton – and is expected to be there for the Coventry game too.

Lai in the Black Country

How the time under Lai unfolded:

No risk of ‘big name’ backfiring

Analysis – BBC Radio WM’s Steve Hermon

Despite all the off the field turmoil created by his predecessor, Guochuan Lai, the American businessman is inheriting a football club with the infrastructure in place to be the consistent Premier League presence that he aspires for them to be.

Thanks to the miraculous and meticulous work of head coach Carlos Corberan, they’re also in a league position from where that could become a reality in just a few short months.

The Spaniard is the key to their short-term success – and hopefully Mr Patel saw what his fellow Americans did down the road at Birmingham City when they disposed of their respected coach in favour of a ‘big name’, which very quickly backfired.

There are certainly no signs that the Baggies will make that same mistake and with the opening words of their new owner and chairman referring to himself being humble but also ambitious, the fans can look forward with optimism for this new era.


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