Image: West Bromwich Albion Image: West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion Football Club has agreed a deal to be bought by a Chinese investment group.

Owner James Pearce, who controls 88% of the club, will step down as chairman, with former Blackburn Rovers chief executive John Williams replacing him.

The man who will own the club is Chinese entrepreneur, Guochuan Lai, who is credited with the turnaround of lansdscaping firm, Palm, which was valued at £1.8 billion.

It is not known how much Mr Lai will pay for the club, but reports have suggested that Mr Pearce was previously looking for around £188 million for his stake.

"My immediate priorities will be to maintain the club's stable structure, respecting its well-run nature and its heritage," said Mr Lai.

"I have no intention of changing the club's ethos."

He said: "I believe that we have a competitive team, with the right management and coaching staff in place."

James Pearce said: "I believe this deal will enable Albion to build on the strong, sustainable foundations that have been the cornerstone of the club's progress.

"The club can look to the future with excitement about the opportunities ahead."

The fans will hope the new owner will bring investment for new players with him, with extra finances long been sought after by the club. Mr Pearce first started looking for investors in 2008, and nearly agreed to a takeover by another Chinese consortium last summer, but broke off negotiations.

The deal means West Brom becomes the Premier League's first club to be owned by a Chinese individual or group. And it also removes another British owner from the country's top league.