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Pulis happy with West Brom’s Chinese takeover


London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis does not expect much to change at the club following its acquisition by a Chinese investment group, he said on Friday.

Yunyi Guokai Sports Development Limited, led by Chinese entrepreneur Guochuan Lai, formally completed its takeover of the Premier League club on Thursday.

Former chairman Jeremy Peace is expected to remain at The Hawthorns in an advisory capacity, with former chief executive John Williams replacing him as chairman.

“I don’t think the new owners will change too much from the way Jeremy has run the football club,” Pulis told his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s home game with West Ham United.

“I’m pleased, the chairman and the new owner are pleased to get the deal done. It’s been going on for a while, so they’ll be pleased that it’s all sorted and done.

“John Williams now has moved in as chairman so there will still be that continuity, but obviously now the Chinese own the football club and are the shareholders, so it will be interesting to see how it works.

“I’ve worked under foreign owners before so I have a good understanding of how it works, both with Icelandic owners (at Stoke City) and Milan (Mandaric) at Portsmouth.”

Lai’s takeover of West Brom was ratified following routine checks by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Premier League, which also carried out its owners’ and directors’ test.

“I’m delighted to complete the acquisition and to become the next steward of the club,” said Lai, who made his fortune with landscaping firm Palm Eco-Town Development Company.

“I would like to thank Jeremy Peace for his leadership over the last 15 years and for laying the strong foundations for the next stage of the club’s development.”

Peace, chairman since 2002, had reportedly been looking for around 200 million pounds ($262.2 million, 234.7 million euros) to sell West Brom.

No financial details about the takeover have been disclosed.

West Brom are currently 12th in the Premier League table with four points from four games.

Pulis’s position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, following reports he was frustrated with the club’s low-key activity during the transfer window.

West Brom are the latest English club to fall into Chinese hands.

Second-tier sides Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both of whom play in the same Midlands region as West Brom, have been taken over by Chinese investors.

Birmingham City, another Midlands team, are in talks with Asian investors seeking to buy the club from Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, who was jailed for money-laundering in 2014.

Manchester City, meanwhile, announced a 265 million pounds investment deal with Chinese consortium CMC last year.

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