West Bromwich Albion owner Guochuan Lai has admitted he borrowed £5million from the club more than a year ago and has still not paid it back.
The extraordinary admission was made in the latest accounts released by Albion, relating to the 2020-21 season, when they were relegated from the Premier League.
Lai has pledged to repay the loan by the end of this year but the revelation is unlikely to be well received by Albion supporters, who became increasingly disillusioned last term as the team finished 10th when they were expected to mount a promotion challenge.
West Brom owner Guochuan Lai has admitted to borrowing £5million from the club in a loan to Wisdom Smart Corporation Limited - a party related to the Chinese businessman
The admission was made in accounts released by the club relating to the 2020-21 season
‘The club’s annual accounts for the 2020/21 season detail a loan to Wisdom Smart Corporation Limited, a related party to me,’ said Lai.
‘Regrettably, the COVID-19 pandemic saw my international businesses suffer, particularly those in the hospitality and entertainment sector, which experienced an almost complete closure for long periods, and in March 2021 I received a loan from the football club.
‘The upturn in the global economy has brought with it greater positivity and I can confirm I will repay the loan in full, with interest, by the end of the current calendar year and the funds will be available to the club during the January 2023 transfer window.’
Lai bought the club from Jeremy Peace for £200million in 2016 and is thought to be open to selling the club. Promotion to the top flight under Steve Bruce this term is necessary if Lai is to make the club more attractive to potential investors.
Lai has vowed to repay the loan in full by the end of the current calendar year so that the funds will be available to the club during the January 2023 transfer window for Steve Bruce to spend
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