Exclusive: Shilen Patel discusses his acquisition of West Bromwich Albion Football Club

Shilen Patel, former chief executive and owner of HealthAxis Group in Tampa, has confirmed to Tampa Bay Business and Wealth that he will acquire the West Bromwich Albion Football Club, a professional football club based in West Bromwich, West Midlands, England. A move that makes him the first Indian American to own a club in any of England’s top leagues.

Patel is an active early-stage and private equity investor, as well as the founder of multiple other enterprises. His investments range from small local startups to more visible and remote assets such as a minority stake in Bologna FC, a soccer team currently in 6th place in Italy’s top league, Serie A.

In his 2022 TBBW cover story, he expressed acquiring a controlling interest in a soccer team as another goal he wanted to achieve.

“I think your outlet was the first to report on that aspiration,” says Patel. “The seed had been planted for quite a while. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for more than 20 years now. I have been evaluating opportunities around the world with different levels of interest, and West Brom is a perfect fit.”

It was confirmed in November that Baggies owner Guochuan Lai, who bought out Jeremy Peace in September 2016, was trying to sell the club, according to a report by the BBC.

“There’s an opportunity here. This club has most of what it needs to return to the Premier League where it has spent most of the last 2 decades,” Patel says.

This acquisition for Patel not only checks off a substantial business bucket list goal but also further expands his international footprint in the business world.

“I think [soccer] is unique compared to many other sports, which might be more regional or constrained to a handful of countries. I love that global aspect of it. I think my global perspective in business and our family’s international business and philanthropy can complement this project well,” Patel says. “SeediSucceeding in the sports business takes qualities I have been developing my entire career.  It requires long-term thinking and tremendous patience. It demands the ability to tolerate a lot of unpredictability and setbacks and reckon with forces beyond your control. Operating in an entrepreneurial environment for my whole career and constantly pushing against constraints to secure growth and success gives me the perspective, and the ability, to  bring pride and success to West Brom.”

It’s a new line of business for Patel, but he’s also excited about the community aspect of it and stewarding a club that fans will continue to rally behind.

“The fan community in West Bromwich and around the world is the heart and soul of the club. The fans have shown up and shown their support even in the toughest times,” Patel says. “A big part of our goal is to build the profile of the club and to build the reach of the club to be something that’s touching the whole world.”

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