Aston Villa owner Dr Tony Xia hasn’t addressed supporters on social media directly since June 27. Previously, the Chinese businessman couldn’t go more than a day or two without posting updates about new developments at Villa Park, but it seems he’s deliberate distancing himself from the fans.
Randy Lerner did the same during his time as Villa’s owner. He hardly came to games in the latter years and seldom released statements about the club to its supporters. Before admitting he was putting the club up for sale, he announced a ‘sell-to-buy’ policy, with the idea that self-sufficiency was important.
Many people saw through his words, and now Xia is playing the same trick but with less subtlety. If reports are to be believed and Villa are in genuine danger of going out of business unless they find an investor, the next few weeks will be more than troubling.
Any player in the squad with a modicum of value in the transfer market will be deemed expendable. Eventually Xia is going to have to sell the club and take a loss. He wants to retain a controlling stake in any takeover, but beggars can’t be choosers.
His statement, released on July 6, laid bare all the problems the club have.
- I have not put the club up for sale
The club may not be officially up for sale, but Xia actively states he needs an investor to keep Villa afloat.
- I would consider minority investment stakes that bring strategic value to the club to help us achieve our goals, but this will be considered extremely carefully.
The ‘minority’ investor at Villa would be required to provide the majority of capital, so questions should be asked how Xia plans to convince somebody to invest the majority of money for a minority stake.
- I have not received an offer of 51%. I have received an offer of 30% but we did not believe there was strategic value and we did not know the source of the money
When Xia’s name was linked with Villa in 2016, little was known about him, but he was telling fans not to worry about dubious claims. It turns out those fears two years ago were warranted.
- FFP is a burden and we need to work within the defined parameters over the course of the next 12 months and beyond and as we have done in the previous 12 months
- To be clear, to meet FFP we need to player trade. No shareholding sale of any size will contribute to meeting FFP. We must reduce costs and increase revenue
Financial Fair Play was already introduced by the time Xia took over Aston Villa, but he still sanctioned a summer spend of over £70m in 2016/17 and has been paying the price ever since.
When Xia says ‘player trade’ he means player sale. Latest reports state there’s no money to make loan signings, so solutions may have to be from within – academy, reserve squad.
- Selling any size of shareholding in the club will not aid in respect to FFP
Xia is admitting that the club needs an investor and will have to make its own money through player sales to avoid a punishment over breach of FFP. Keeping the club in business is only half the battle.
- Steve Bruce remains in charge with my support
Villa can’t afford to sack Bruce and pay his compensation – something the experienced manager is acutely aware of. He won’t leave unless he’s pushed, even though the 2018/19 campaign could be disappointing for the Midlands outfit.
- There is significant football experience within our playing department and our football administration team who will be supported by the club admin team.
An interesting quote to make given Technical Director Steve Round and chief executive Keith Wyness have departed the club in recent weeks…
All in all, Villa are living month to month financially and need an investor to keep them afloat over the long-term.
Xia has been separating himself from fans and has warned them that high-profile sales will be required this summer, but will he be one of them jumping ship?
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