FORMER Blackburn Rovers chairman and chief executive John Williams has been appointed chairman of West Brom after the Premier League club announced it is be sold to a Chinese investment group controlled by entrepreneur Guochuan Lai.

The sale was agreed in June and is dependent on approval from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Premier League.

The hugely respected Williams will replace the outgoing Jeremy Pearce who has agreed to stay on in an advisory capacity to assist with the transition to new ownership during the 2016-17 season but steps down from his board position as chairman.

Williams, who has spent the last three years as chairman of the Professional Game Match Officials board, said: “I would like to thank Jeremy for the great work he has done at this club over the last 14 years and I am looking forward to working with Guochuan, the board, the head coach and the staff, as we implement Guochuan’s vision for taking the club forward.

“I am delighted to be joining a club in such a strong position and as we shepherd in a new era I would also like to thank Jeremy for agreeing to assist Guochuan and me with a safe handover.

"I have had several meetings with the board to discuss the strategy of the club with regards to the playing staff and transfer window and will be looking to support them in strengthening our squad. We are committed to the task of ensuring we tackle this first season of a new era with a competitive team.

“I think it is also important to assure supporters that throughout the summer to date the club has been operating to a well thought out, agreed and evolving transfer plan and will continue to do so for the remainder of the window. Guochuan and his team have supported this process and we will continue to conduct our business accordingly.” 

Williams joined Rovers in 1997 as chief executive under Jack Walker, two years after the club had won the Premiership title.

Following the benefactor’s death in 2000, Williams was the custodian of the Walker legacy, overseeing promotion back to the Premiership in 2001, Worthington Cup glory in 2002 and 10 successive seasons in the top flight before his departure in February 2011 following the takeover of the club by Venky’s.