Aston Villa is a club in free fall.
But that’s about to change.
The club that mustered only 17 points in 38 Premier League games this year and cancelled their post-season awards party has just been sold to a group headed by Dr. Tony Xiu, an exceptionally bright businessman with a love for the beautiful game.
Dr. Xiu is the head of the Recon Group, a privately held company that holds controlling interests in five publicly traded companies listed on the Chinese and Hong Kong stock exchanges that span across many industries.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) May 18, 2016
Basically Tony Xiu is a benevolent tycoon, or so it would appear. After graduating top of his class in China, Xiu spent six years studying at MIT, Harvard, and Oxford before returning to China to start Recon Group.
Recon Group is a 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.
Club chairman Steve Hollis has been in China greasing palms to finalize the sale of the team.
“STEVE HOLLIS HAS PUT A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF WORK INTO THIS.”
“STEVE’S CURRENTLY IN CHINA WORKING ON MOVING THE CLUB OVER AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. HAVING HAD FOUR OPTIONS TO CONSIDER, THIS IS THE ONE HE’S NOW FOCUSED ON.”
Normally, transferring ownership out of the country could be seen as a negative, but not with Aston Villa. The club’s been so abysmal that the only place to go is up.
Furthermore, the club’s been owned by American businessman Randy Lerner since 2006.
Why is that significant?
Because he also owns the Cleveland Browns, the sorriest franchise in professional sports.
Look at the lengths this angry Cleveland Browns fan went to after the weight of so many miserable seasons became too much to bear. A truly incredible catharsis.
Paul the Octopus would be a better owner than Randy Lerner has been. Sources indicate that the deal is worth around $87 million (£60 million).
That seems like a big number, but it’s peanuts in today’s world of mega transfers and billion dollar TV deals.
Aston Villa fans are universally in favor of the deal, which underscores just how bad things have gotten at Villa.
“OUR OWNER MADE HORRENDOUS DECISIONS AND HAS BEEN ABSENT FROM THE CLUB FOR YEARS. SHOULD HOPEFULLY SEND US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.”
the0nlytrueprophet, Aston Villa fan
“I DON’T CARE WHAT KIND OF OWNERS THEY ARE, THEY SIMPLY CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN LERNER’S LAST FEW YEARS. I MEAN YEAH, WE COULD THEORETICALLY GET BUCKED INTO LEAGUE 2. BUT ANY CHANGE IS A WELCOME ONE AT THIS STAGE.”
forzaregista, Aston Villa fan
“I’M QUITE EXCITED BY THIS, WITH THE WAY CHINESE FOOTBALL IS AT THE MOMENT IT’S A MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY.”
“THEIR FOOTBALL IS GOING TO GET BIGGER AND BIGGER AND IF WE HAVE A BIG PRESENCE OVER THERE THEY’RE GOING TO WANT TO MAKE SURE WE’RE SUCCESSFUL – COULD BE REALLY GOOD FOR US.”
jackgrant75, Aston Villa fan
I would say that temperatures range from cynical to optimistic with a dash of apathy mixed in there for good measure.
The one thing that is clear is that change, ANY change, is welcome at Aston Villa right now.
Dr. Xiu, you have the bridge.