West Bromwich Albion Takes Growth In Asia To New Heights
As the popularity of football soars throughout Asia, West Bromwich Albion prepare to grow their presence greatly through the construction of up to six ‘soccer towns’ across China.
West Brom’s owner, Guochuan Lai has plans to put the Midlands club at the centre of attention when it comes to Asia’s rapidly increasing passion for football. This strategy, which has already proven enormously successful with some of the world’s biggest football clubs, has worked to grow clubs’ following, influence and fan base throughout many generations and in numerous countries.
Joining forces with Palm, a partner in the takeover of West Brom, the club’s Youth Academy is set to become a key feature across multiple locations, enabling more to become involved with the club than ever before. Offering a wide range of activities, these eco-focussed facilities will encourage grassroots football while giving those throughout Asia the opportunity to use facilities set up by the Premier League club.
Having signed a first deal with local governing bodies in the Guizhou Province, the first sports town will be built between Guiyang and Anshun, aligning with the government’s objectives to develop football and environmental sustainability in the coming years.
Lai completed his acquisition of Jeremy Peace’s 88% controlling stake in the club last year, with a company statement at the time of the takeover detailing plans for expansion: “These towns are designed to be more liveable and environmentally focused than traditional cities, with integral health, cultural and leisure facilities. Palm intends to place football facilities at the heart of communities, helping to accelerate the Chinese Government’s plans to develop football in the country and providing significant future commercial and cultural opportunities for the club.”
Alongside the eagerly awaited ‘soccer towns’ being talked about, West Bromwich Albion are leading the way in capturing interest throughout Asia, particularly since signing one of China’s brightest young football talents, Yuning Zhang. The striker was signed by the Baggies and sent out on loan to continue his career growth, sparking unprecedented interest throughout Asia. Richard Garlick, Albion’s Director of Football Administration, said: “He will be challenging for a place in a top European league and we will be monitoring his progress before reassessing his prospects at the end of the loan period. There is no doubt that there are commercial benefits that come with the deal but the primary target is to help develop one of the best young players in a booming corner of the football industry.”