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West Brom fans explain their ‘genuine fears’ for club’s future while urging communication

West Brom fans explain their ‘genuine fears’ for the club’s future while urging communication from Guochuan Lai over his plans.

Following Thursday’s announcement that the club’s directors had written off a £5million loan, Action For Albion and Shareholders 4 Albion wrote an open letter to Lai.

Auditors for the Championship side have indicated that there is “material uncertainty” about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern due to a lack of financial guarantees.

Azets’ statement is included in the West Bromwich Albion Group Ltd’s latest accounts. This statement is due to cash flow problems that have caused Guochuan Lai to miss three deadlines for repaying a £5million loan taken from club coffers in order to support his Hong Kong company Wisdom Smart Corporation.

West Brom said in a statement: “The ultimate controlling shareholder and Chairman Guochuan Lai reiterated his assurance to club members that the loan and accrued interests would be repaid.”

The auditors’ statement and the missed repayment deadlines have worried West Brom fans and independent shareholder shareholders. Referring to West Brom director Ken Xu’s annual report, the auditors say that cash must be raised through player trading.


“Leaving aside breaches of legal deadlines, you (Lai) have promised, and failed, on three separate occasions to meet your own subsequent promised payment dates to repay the £4.95m you borrowed in March 2021 from the football club plus all interest due,” the letter reads. “Your latest promise of repayment ‘early in the New Year’ has clearly passed.

“The overall picture at the club is extremely worrying. The club is currently owed (including all interest due) an eight-figure sum, including the above loan borrowed on extraordinarily favourable and uncommercial/not ‘arm’s length’ terms; yet as a business we have had no choice but to borrow £20m on commercial terms including a high interest rate (not publicly revealed), for the club to continue to operate.”

These accounts include the West Midlands outfit’s first season in the Championship after their 2021 Premier League relegation. The club actually made a profit, but the sale of Matheus Peeira to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia would have resulted in a loss of £16.7m.

The club’s auditors say there is “material uncertainty” about West Brom’s future.

“We have genuine fears for the future of the club we all love,” the letter goes on.

“We need you (Lai) to communicate urgently with us and let us know your strategy for the future, including regaining our Premier League status. A business without investment is not going to succeed and maintain its commercial value to you.

“We would welcome a meeting between you, members of our fan base and representatives of the minority shareholders (part-owners of the football club) to discuss these issues at the earliest opportunity. Any business which wishes to be successful in the UK needs to communicate with its customers and stakeholders.”

West Brom published a statement on their website on Thursday reiterating Lai’s intention to repay the loan.

It read: “West Bromwich Albion Football Club has submitted to Companies House its annual report and financial statements for the 12-month period ended 30 June 2022, which reflects the 2021/22 EFL Championship season.

“The club recorded a profit before tax of £5.4m (2021: £0.1m) for the period ended 30 June 2022.

“Turnover decreased from £106.9m in the 11-month period ended 30 June 2021 to £65.4m, owing to a reduction in Premier League distributions and sponsorship income following relegation.

The fees paid for the purchase of player registrations during this period is £12.6m (2021: £30.5m), while the sale of player registrations returned £17.8m (2021: £9.7m).

“Staff costs decreased from £76.9m to £42.4m, with the reduction predominantly driven by the contractual salary decrease for players and staff following relegation to the Championship.

“An outstanding loan of £4,950,000, owed during the accounting period by Wisdom Smart Corporation Limited, has been impaired in the accounts at Group level by auditors, and West Bromwich Albion Holdings Limited – a wholly owned subsidiary of Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Limited – has since committed to guarantee repayment of the loan and accrued interest.

“The ultimate controlling shareholder and Chairman Guochuan Lai has repeated his assurance to the club that the loan and accrued interest will be repaid.

“Following the reporting period, in December 2022, West Bromwich Albion Group Limited secured a £20m loan facility from MSD UK Holdings Limited which has been fully drawn down to Football Club.”

Twitter users reacted as West Brom fans explain their ‘genuine fears’ for club’s future while urging communication…

@NigelGreenwoo11: We’re stuffed and have been for 5 years. If nobody understands or realises the seriousness of this situation just look at Bolton and Portsmouth- we are on road to destruction- so sad but very very real

@Roberts17D: Tell us something we don’t know already…. The little shits doing us a good un #LAIOUT

@gemmadowneswba: How dare Lai and associates put my beloved club into the situation that we now find ourselves in. I’m so angry….and Peace is just as much a scumbag as the current lot – he basically didn’t give a shit who he sold to

@dudleydrinker: I suspect the first option to generate ‘survival funds’ will be a +10/20% hike on season ticket prices #WBA

@JakeWBA97: Knew he wouldn’t pay it back will bled us dry sell stadium & training ground within 3 years. Haven’t got many players worth value and when club know you are desperate for money they will not pay what u want. Next blues but possible worse

@PrestonTerrier: Expect Carlos to walk this summer then… #htafc #wba

@DarrenSmithTWIF: Ridden their luck by yo yoing between PL and parachutes. That luck might run out this season. If it does the financial reality could be very stark for them. The playing budget will be significantly lower than the fanbase has got used to.

@pennwba: It currently looks likely if not inevitable that @wba will not exist in a year or so. We won’t have a club to support. Yet nobody outside of #wba seems to care about this. This should never have been allowed to happen 😪

@barnes7145: Do we all think that Lai and co are happy to lose 200 mil by going into Admin? If he is happy to do that then why has he not just accepted the alleged 80/100 mil he was previously offered and just write off 100 mil instead?

@pennwba: It’s a mess. I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t trust Lai to have any interest in protecting the club whatsoever. In fact, I suspect he would dismantle the club out of spite.

@Michaelwh24: Someway off that…. administration then most likely another owner.

@MattYeltzBaggie: If Gourlay was really a man of principle he’d be gone. If you’re a professional who values reputation and integrity you don’t peddle lies and you don’t aid and abet deliberate sabotage or violations of fiduciary duty. You walk. He’s a coward just taking the money #wba

@JamesBoothy: worrying times

@CraigDavies1: Utterly disgusting what is happening @WBA Lai is a crook. #WBAFC #baggies #LaiOut

@nickwortley61: He’s gonna bleed us dry until we go into administration. This needs taking up a level now. Peacefully obviously. @action4albion #LAIOUT

@jhassall9: Literally promotion or doomed aint it. #laiout

@tonkytowers: Am so gutted with today’s goings on. Just hope it doesn’t adversely impact the team for Saturday!!

@uber_foods: And this is why what @action4albion are doing is so important #wba

@aidennwba: ‘borrowed’ 5m in 2021 to fund another business which is also worth fuck all now, missed his repayment date twice now he’s written it off. absolute disgrace. fear for us next season #wba

@lewis_botfield: Seriously needs to be an arrest warrant on this prick! The hatred I have for this smack rat is through the fucking roof!

@DarrenSmithTWIF: Looks like the WBA owner has trousered £5m of the Premier League money for himself.

@Jay89R: We desperately need Lai to sell up otherwise we’re in deep shit

@leowatkins: This is such dodgy shit man

@onlyonenindenis: Imagine being one of the players reading “forecasted player sales is not achieved”which is “if they’re any good we’ll try and sell them”. So you’re either crap or about to be sold.

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