Shilen Patel | The first Albion interview

Shilen Patel is interviewed by WBA TV in the home dressing room at The Hawthorns with an Albion shirt behind him and the club cameras to the right of the photo

West Bromwich Albion's new Chairman, Shilen Patel, has given his first official interview to WBA TV.

The Florida-based entrepreneur discussed a wide variety of topics, ranging from his reasons for wanting to become a custodian of the club, his hopes for Albion both on and off the pitch, his admiration of head coach Carlos Corberán, the financial position of the business, his intentions regarding communication with supporters and so much more. 

The full interview is available to watch, and read, below.

Welcome to West Bromwich Albion. This club is so often described as a family club. How does it feel to be the new head of the family?

"It’s still sinking in. I think it will be an amazing feeling to go out there on a matchday and really feel the energy of the fans and the family.

"I look forward to everything that comes with it. I take the idea of family very seriously. It’s very important to me.

"I know how important this club is to the Albion family. I just want to make the family proud."

What was it about West Bromwich Albion that initially sparked your interest?

"I think, everything that you think about when you think about English football, I think that Albion has.

"You’ve got the tradition. You’ve got the passion. You’ve got the close ties with the community. You’ve got the history. You’ve got the quirky stories.

"I think it’s just such a great representation of the game and of English football and I’m so proud to be part of that."

Shilen Patel standing on the pitch at The Hawthorns with the Halfords Lane stand in the background with an Albion scarf around his neck

A lot of detail will be confidential, but please could you talk us through the process of acquiring our football club and the timeline of events?

"So I first learned about the opportunity to acquire the club in September. From that moment on I was taking a deep interest and I was watching matches, trying to learn as much as I could about the club, about West Bromwich and about the opportunity.

"It was a few weeks later that I put in my first offer and it’s been a long journey from there to here.

"I’ve been working to anticipate everything and prepare for everything that goes into owning a club like this. I’ve spent the last couple of months going through an extensive process.

"I think everyone involved wanted to make sure that this was the right thing to do. I’m glad to be on the other end of that and I’m glad to be here."

Has it always been a goal of yours to own a football club?

"For as long as I’ve known I’ve wanted to be in business, I’ve known I wanted to be in the business of sport.

"It’s been an aspiration for my entire career and I think the global nature of football is so compelling to me, the way that it touches all corners of the world.

"To be sitting here now is the beginning of the fulfilment of the dream. There’s lots more to do, but I’m just so excited to arrive at this moment."

Shilen Patel is interviewed by WBA TV in the home dressing room at The Hawthorns with an Albion shirt behind him

How would you like to be described as a leader and what are your key professional values?

"My key values are trust and transparency. I don’t like to be in the way. I respect the strengths that other people bring to the table.

"My goal is to set the vision, create an environment of stability and then build a high-quality team that is competent and trustworthy to go forward and execute.

"I believe in collaboration. I don’t believe in micro-management. I feel that I know my strengths and I feel that I know what my strengths are not. I try to build teams which complement what I can and what I cannot do.

How involved will you be with the day-to-day running of the club?

"I think it’s important to understand the uniqueness of football. I want to be very involved, especially early on.

"There’s a lot that I want to learn and need to learn about the context of the club including everything that is happening today, where the strengths are and where the opportunities might be.

"Ultimately, my goal is to have a trusted team that is living and breathing the business of the team every day."

Shilen Patel standing in a suit in the home dressing room surrounded by Albion shirts

What would you like to achieve here both in the short term and in the long term?

"I think the long-term goal has to be to get back home to the Premier League. That’s where a club like West Bromwich Albion belongs.

"We are going to do our best to return the fans to that league.

"I think every season until that goal is accomplished, our mindset is that we have to be a club that is aiming to be in the top six, with a chance to play our way up."

How many Albion matches have you been able to watch from afar?

"Almost every match that was available to watch via the streaming platform. Every match I’ve had the opportunity to watch, I’ve watched since learning about the club."

Shilen Patel smiling at the camera while wearing a suit and stood next to a wall with "Welcome to The Hawthorns" written on it

How often can supporters expect to see you at home and away matches?

"My goal is to be here as often as I can, especially early on. There’s a lot I need to learn about the club and the context of the club.

"Experiencing the matches, which is the coming together of so much of what the Albion community means, is going to be something which is very important to me."

The manager Carlos Corberán is an extremely popular figure here at The Hawthorns. Have you had an opportunity to meet him yet and how crucial is he to your plans for the club on the pitch?

"I had the chance to meet with Carlos very briefly when I made a visit here towards the back end of October. He certainly made an impression on me.

"I think that you can tell that he has a great sense of detail and his intensity is apparent. The work that he has done and the results that he has achieved in the time that he has been here, they speak for themself.

"I’m really excited and happy that Carlos is our manager.

"To me, he is the manager with the perfect mindset for the project that we are embarking on.

"I’m really looking forward to seeing how he gets the best out of players now and in the years to come."

Carlos Corberán applauds Albion fans at Plymouth

We’ve been working under pretty tight financial restrictions in the last 12-18 months. Will that still be the case for the foreseeable future in an effort to continue to balance the books and ensure the long-term stability of the Albion?

"There’s a lot that goes into running the club in this league and we have to be cognizant of all those things.

"I think that when you’re a club that’s in the situation that Albion is in now, without the parachute money, the rules simply do not allow you to buy your way back to the Premier League. You have to earn it.

"We have to find a way to run with discipline and stay on the right side of the rules that exist now and the rules that are probably coming in the future.

"I think to be a responsible and sustainable operation is crucial. The club is going to have what it needs to operate within the boundaries of the league.

"We’re absolutely going to have to increase our expertise in getting the most out of everything in front of us."

One of the fans’ concerns here has been the loans to and from the football club. Firstly, can you tell us the state of play with the MSD loan?

"Understanding the loan and building a relationship with MSD was a really important part of my process in acquiring the club.

"We have agreed to roll the loan over under my ownership. We have established terms for continuity and the ability to pay the loan down at the right time.

"So, we will be proceeding with the loan in place initially and we’ll be in a constant process with MSD to figure out the right way to move forward."

A general view of The Hawthorns with the photo taken from the back right corner of the Smethwick End stand

There is also money owed to the club in the form of two loans – one dating back to 2014 and the other being the Wisdom loan – what is the status of those loans?

"I think there’s a lot of accounting complexity with those loans and we had to spend a lot of time figuring out the right way to handle them.

"The 2014 loan isn’t really something I can comment on. There’s an ongoing matter with it and we just need to wait and see how that process plays through.

"The Wisdom loan, for better or worse, the club will be in need of additional cash. I think that’s known to everyone in the Albion community and the football world, so we will probably, through an accounting mechanism, utilise the Wisdom loan and satisfying it as part of the process of bringing cash into the club."

The fans here really appreciate honest and open communication with key figures. Is it your plan to be an owner who integrates with supporters and keeps them informed as much as possible with goings on at the club?

"I’m a big believer in transparency and communication. I think it’ll be up to me to learn more about everybody involved, but I think my goal is to be communicative and open.

"I think that the plans that we have for the club are plans that everyone should be excited about and that everyone should have a relationship with.

"I look forward to having an ongoing dialogue with the fans and all of the other stakeholders of the club."

Shilen Patel is interviewed by WBA TV in the home dressing room at The Hawthorns with Albion shirts behind him and a camera to his side

Another huge part of our club is the absolutely brilliant Albion Foundation. How much do you know about them and how excited are you to get involved in a number of projects of theirs?

"Philanthropy is one of the defining characteristics of our family.

"I think there is little that is more important than giving back and making a difference where you can.

"I’ve been really impressed with the work of the Albion Foundation. It was one of the things that stood out to me as unique among a lot of the other clubs I’ve looked at over the years and it’s something I’m really excited to engage with.

"I think the programming and the reach of the Foundation right now is already tremendous and I look forward to seeing how we build on that with our philanthropic projects as a family, whether that’s here in the Midlands and in the Black Country, or whether that’s around the world.

"I think that there’s great power to the Albion brand and there’s great potential for the Foundation."

What’s the main emotion you have been feeling since completing the takeover?

"I haven’t allowed myself to get excited about the process through this whole time because I think everything is always so tenuous and you just don’t know what’s going to happen when you wake up the next day in terms of what news is coming out or how things have changed.

"I have been extremely guarded for about three or four months and I think to be here feels like an incredible relief.

"I can finally permit myself to be a little bit excited about the opportunity. I’ve wanted to be thrilled for a long time, but it was not something I allowed for myself until things were official.

"Now, I’m delighted. I’m over the moon and I can’t wait for what happens next."

Shilen Patel is interviewed by WBA TV in the home dressing room at The Hawthorns with Albion shirts behind him and a camera to his side

Finally, what does success look like for you here. What would you like your West Bromwich Albion legacy to be?

"The club has been here long before I was alive. The club will be here long after I’m gone.

"I think that my goal is for my period with the club to be one that is reflected on as one of the great periods in the club’s history.

"I think it’s important to be realistic, but I don’t think that means we can’t be ambitious. It certainly means we can be proud, and that’s my goal.

"I want everyone associated with West Bromwich Albion to feel pride when they think about the time I’ve had the opportunity to lead the family."

  • Shilen Patel