Lets preface this article by saying, I’m a realistic and there is a long, long way to go before we can start looking seriously at elements of the long-term picture, such as the one focused on in this post.
Villa’s future is simpler than you think. Let me deconstruct it for you. If the club doesn’t get promoted back to the Premier League within three seasons max, then it doesn’t matter how much money a new owner has, as Villa could be in serious trouble, as no doubt any owner (especially a Chinese group) will deem it a failure and have an exit plan (more of that to come in a separate article).
With this in mind, lets assume though the club will fulfil their core immediate aim and get promoted pronto and can move onto the business of fulfilling the potential of the club that other owners in the last two decades have failed to get close to.
One thing that can be deciphered about the long-term objectives of our would-be Chinese owners, from the rambling statement of departing owner Randy Lerner, is proposed structural changes for Villa Park.
After Lerner’s wayward words compared last season to the Battle of Bannockburn and seemingly considered his crowning achievement as restoring ‘the wonderful Jacobean Holte Hotel’ (one that Doug Ellis had tried to demolish, it must be noted), he dropped a hint that if everything went well on the pitch, developing Villa Park (or whatever it might be called) would be high on Tony Xia’s agenda.
He is certainly a hugely successful businessman but importantly for me he is passionate about architecture, site design and planning,” wrote Lerner, of Xia.
“His commitment to invest in the squad, and leadership at Bodymoor Heath was expressed early on but as we visited together, and had some unrushed time to discuss his plans, Tony’s excitement to develop Villa Park shone through.
“I remain convinced that this is a crucial part of the Club’s future as it provides a critical, long-term second source of revenue and therefore sustainability for the Club from which squad-funding can potentially come.”
Of course, it is crucial, if Villa are to be competitive with the rest of the top six or so English clubs, who have all actively increased the capacity of the number of fans who watch them; whether it be through relocation or expansion of stadia. However, there has to be a huge swing from a club closing a tier of a major stand for the start of next season, to one that can fill a 50,000 stadium.
Best Laid Plans…
Lerner himself commissioned the architect plans for a new North Stand that would bring about the increased capacity stadium, but he never got close to actually using them, as the footfall through the gates of Villa Park dropped, as a result of the horror that enfolded on the pitch.
In terms of Xia and the Recon’s group getting a chance to dust down those plans, what happens on the green grass of Villa Park in the forthcoming future is now much more important than a bunch of drawings of what surrounds it.
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