The grim financial reality facing West Brom as Guochan Lai’s loan is revealed
THE harsh reality of West Brom’s financial limitations have been magnified by events this past week – and those over the next 24 hours.
Last Sunday came the bombshell from technical director Luke Dowling that the club would not be able to afford to sign striker Dwight Gayle on a permanent basis.
On Thursday, confirmation of the astronomical sums the 20 top flight clubs received in TV rights fees and prize money.
Huddersfield finished bottom, as the Baggies had the previous season, and still banked £96.63 million.
And tomorrow, Aston Villa and Derby County will contest a match that is set to land the winner a £170 million revenue boost.
A match Albion were one penalty kick away from competing in themselves. Fine margins make a whole world of difference.
And reports of a £4.1 million loan Guochuan Lai is yet to pay to back to the club – inherited from previous owner Jeremy Peace in the 2016 takeover – hasn’t instilled confidence in the board or Albion’s direction.
There is no indication, it must be stressed, that Lai does not intend to honour this debt, or that he has ever taken money out of the club.
As it is, managerless Albion face the grim prospect of another 46-game slog in the Championship – and with a smaller budget than the one that failed to deliver promotion this season.
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West Brom were able to fend off big-money bids for Craig Dawson and Jay Rodriguez last summer thanks to the £42.6 million first-year parachute payment received from the Premier League.
The second-year payment drops to £34.8 million. That £7.8 million shortfall has to be found from somewhere. Players will have to be sold.
Salomon Rondon will almost certainly make way. His goal scoring form on loan at Newcastle should ensure there is at least one club willing to activate his £16.5 million release clause.
Albion have few chances to cash in on their £12 million striker with the Venezuelan international out of contract next summer.
Allan Nyom, who has spent the season on loan at La Liga side Leganes, is also expected to be sold.
And if Burnley come in with offers for Dawson and Rodriguez close to what they were prepared to pay last summer, the Baggies might just have to accept.
There could also be top flight interest in Ahmed Hegazi, who has been selected for Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign on home soil this summer, Kieran Gibbs and Matt Phillips.
Like Rondon and Nyom, Phillips is out of contract next summer so the Baggies will either have to listen to offers for the winger or find cash to offer a new deal.
The most galling departure could be that of talented youngster Rekeem Harper. The 19-year-old is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.
Harper is reportedly interesting Spurs and Premier League new boys Norwich after commanding a regular starting place in the Albion midfield this season.
If he leaves, he could go for a nominal compensation fee, despite the many years West Brom have invested in developing him.
The financial fall-out from Albion’s play-off semi-final defeat has been laid bare in recent days.
Huddersfield were involved in ten televised matches this season yet banked more than £94 million in associated revenue.
The Baggies were broadcast live in twice as many matches, including the FA Cup fourth-round replay on the BBC, yet earned around £1.25 million in TV fees.
And next to nothing in prize money for finishing fourth. The fiscal disparity is frightening, but very real.
It’s not all doom and gloom. West Brom can prepare for the 2019/20 Championship season with a strong budget.
A budget that will become even more competitive following one or two high-profile departures.