Former English Premier League team Aston Villa has been acquired by a Chinese Consortium headed by Recon Group owner Dr. Tony Xia. Aston Villa, who were relegated from the top-flight of English football at the end of the season, will compete in the English Championship in 2016-17. Xia is waiting for approval by the Football League, who only need to rubber stamp the deal to give the Chinese investor complete control of the West Midlands club.
Xia’s purchase of Aston Villa was for a reported $95 million, as he bought the relegated club from American Randy Lerner. Xia has attempted to squash rumours that the purchase of the club has been backed by the Chinese government. The Chinese government has been investing into football develop within the country and buying stakes in teams abroad. The move is to improve the country’s national football team in preparation for future World Cups.
Xia has presented the required paperwork to the Football League and has shown proof of over £500m in bank accounts set up in England.
Xia’s plans for Aston Villa are to return the club to the English Premier League as soon as possible. With his connections in China, the businessman will attempt to find commercial deals for the club. Xia has already stated that he wants to make Aston Villa the most famous team in China, and using his connections and business acumen could enable this to happen.
Once Xia passes the Football League’s “Fit and Proper Persons” test, he will need to invest heavily into the team, if he hopes to return the Villains to the English Premier League. Aston Villa recorded a mere 17 points from a possible 114 during the league season in 2015-16.
Tim Sherwood had started the season as Aston Villa manager, but was relieved of his duties on the 25th of October. Frenchman Remi Garde took over, but only lasted until the 29th of March. The club have already installed former Chelsea and Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo for the season in the Championship. However, until Xia’s purchase becomes official, Aston Villa will be unable to negotiate player personnel moves.
Chinese investors have been buying into football clubs in recent time. Suning Holdings bought a 68% stake in Italian giants Inter Milan. The deal was for a reported $855m.
Aston Villa may not be the only team from English city Birmingham to have new investment from China, as Birmingham City are also on the verge of takeover. The Blue half of the city is set to have a 60% stake bought by Hong Kong serial investor Paul Suen.
While Xia is focusing on the purchase of Aston Villa, he is reportedly looking at other clubs around the world. Xia’s takeover of Aston Villa comes at a time when fans of the club have been at their lowest point. After years of investment from former owner Lerner, the club saw the exit of popular manager Martin O’Neill in August 2010 after Lerner baulked at investing further into player personnel. Since then, Villa has finished in ninth position or lower in each season.