Aston Villa Football Club is under new ownership.
Villa has been bought by Chinese businessman, and Villa supporter, Dr Tony Xia and the club revealed in a statement that “an agreement has been signed today for the sale of 100% ownership by Randy Lerner to Recon Group owned by Dr Tony Jiantong Xia.”
Dr Xia will also become Villa’s Chairman when the deal is approved by the Premier League and Football League.
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The statement also said that Villa would appoint a new manager shortly as they aim to bounce back at the first time of asking following their relegation from the Premier League.
Villa finished rock bottom of the Premier League during the 2015-16 season and amassed just 17 points in a woeful campaign which saw the former European champions relegated for the first time in the PL era.
American businessman Randy Lerner has finally been able to sell the club, as he initially put it on the market 2014 but no buyer met the asking price of over $200 million from the former Cleveland Browns owner. Since relegation the price of Villa has fallen dramatically and Dr Xia has snapped them up.
Below is a statement from Villa as they announced the sale:
Aston Villa Football Club is pleased to announce that an agreement has been signed today for the sale of 100% ownership by Randy Lerner to Recon Group owned by Dr Tony Jiantong Xia subject to the approval of the Premier League and the Football League. Once those approvals have been granted and the new board members approved under the fit & proper rules of both leagues, Dr Xia will become Chairman of Aston Villa. The Club will announce the appointment of a new manager shortly.
Randy Lerner has sought the right new owner for Aston Villa who would take great care of the Club and restore its fortunes. He believes that Tony Xia is an excellent choice.
Recon Group is Dr Xia’s privately owned holding company that owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges and many other private companies employing 35,000 people in 75 countries.
Dr Xia played football as a striker until he finished at college and football has remained his passion. Dr Xia decided to buy an iconic football Club in England as the cornerstone of his Sports, Leisure and Tourism Division. He became a fan of Aston Villa many years ago and is delighted at the opportunity to become the new owner.
Dr Xia’s immediate objective is to return Aston Villa to the Premier League and then to have the Club finish in the top six, bringing European football back to Villa Park. He plans to make Aston Villa the most famous football Club in China with a huge fan base.
It is believe Dr Xia has purchased the club for just shy of $90 million, which is the same amount Lerner bought it for in 2006, and the billionaire is said to be willing to pump substantial funds into the club.
To his credit Lerner also pumped millions into the club as they rose into the top six for three-straight years under Martin O’Neil but selling the likes of Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, James Milner, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke saw the soul of the team ripped out and money was never properly invested in the playing squad, hence the relegation. Villa fans will never forgive Lerner for that and in recent months they’ve vented their anger at the owner with large scale protests before, during and after games. Now, finally, everyone can move on as Villa focus on a return to the PL.
New Villa chairman Steve Hollis has been in China over the past few days to finalize the deal and the BBC believes that Roberto di Matteo or Nigel Pearson will be named as Villa’s new manager in the coming days.
After years of turmoil and discontent, better times seem to lie ahead for Villa.