After the last five seasons Aston Villa supporters have had to endure, it’s easy to understand that some fans wanted the new Tony Xia ownership narrative to run something like – Lerner is gone, a rich owner is in, everything is ok now. DO NOT QUESTION THIS!

Xia Jiantong (aka Tony Xia) maybe the new claret & blue messiah, but as some more cautious supporters and investigate journalists have suggested, he may also be the Wizard of Oz. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to look behind the curtain.

Xia’s Approach

When the club announced that Tony Xia and the Chinese Recon group would be the new owners of Aston Villa, the original club statement, as well as getting giddy over the incoming owner’s financial wealth (that has since been muted and altered on the club statement), included claims of making Villa the most famous club in China and noted Xia ‘became a fan of Aston Villa many years ago’.

The ‘Villa fan’ emphasis and other subsequent statements like the aim to make Villa one of the ‘top three clubs in the world’, seemed unnecessary and unrealistic. Surely if you wanted to inspire the masses who take things at face value, just stick to the standard ‘Europe in five years’ protocol (copyright Faulkner & Fox).

Xia Jiantong (aka Tony Xia) admitted in a Chinese TV interview though, that he had been looking into eight Premier League teams to buy over the past two years, but since Villa has been up for sale publicly for two years now, if he had the wealth and was indeed a Villa fan of ‘many years’, why look elsewhere?

Probable Interests

Until the public move for Aston Villa, Xia and his associates’ perusing of the market for Premier League clubs has largely been under the radar; no doubt aided by non-disclosure agreements.

Were they the mysterious Chinese consortium that were interested in WBA last year and granted exclusivity?  One clue is that rather than paying the full amount upfront as WBA chairman Jeremy Peace had desired, the Chinese consortium sought a staggered payment schedule, which is exactly what Xia has offered to Randy Lerner. The Baggies deal is thought to have collapsed because of this, as well as not being helped by a drop in the Chinese share market at the time.

Team Xia perhaps also cast a fleeting glance at Swansea City too, who were on the market, as the public courtship by two known two American consortiums over the last year has proven. Swansea’s currently have major Chinese sponsorship connections with the Goldenway Global Group (GWFX), so you’d expect them to have been considered, although, whether the current Chinese sponsors would be a benefit or cause a conflict is unclear.

Proven Interest

One firm previous Xia link with a club that MOMS has discovered came when looking into a Chinese Consortium interest in Everton earlier in the year. A couple of phone conversations MOMS had with a Everton source last week, confirmed that Keith Wyness himself and a Chinese consortium had been looking into Everton earlier this year.

Wyness, who is expected to take a leading position on the new Villa board, is a former Everton CEO and apparently still owns shares in Everton, so his interest in leading Xia to the Merseyside club is understandable.

 

Any deal to buy out the current Everton owner Bill Kenwright outright would have been in the £200m ballpark, a figure that had previously put off the US consortium headed up by John J Moores and Charles Noell (who had also been interested in Swansea City).

Interestingly, in the end, Everton favoured a longer-term staggered deal with former Arsenal shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who reportedly sold his shares in the Gunners to the tune of £200m. Up to £100m of that has been reinvested into Everton for a 49.9 per cent stake in the club. He is expected to takeover entirely from Kenwright within the next two years.

Tony Xia maybe the new claret & blue messiah, but…he may also be the Wizard of Oz.

So did Xia fall short there or did he see Villa and the growing city of Birmingham as a better value opportunity, despite the gamble of needing swift promotion from the Championship?

Toffee Ideas

MOMS was informed that one of Wyness and the Chinese consortium’s specific interests regarding Everton was in the Football Quarter project in Liverpool, a regeneration space that would celebrate the city’s footballing tradition and was proposed by both the ‘Keep Everton in the City’ group and the Spirit of Shankly.

Wyness allegedly was keen to meet council officials, including the Mayor of Liverpool, to discuss the possibilities.

As we know, Xia studied design and landscape architecture at Harvard and his company Recon have a distinct interest in urban design.

There’s a distinct possibility that the concept of the Football Quarter in Liverpool sparked the idea of a similar venture in Birmingham, because packaged in the deal of buying Aston Villa, as the brochure originally selling the club (see below) details, is an additional 12 acres of land located half a mile from Villa Park.

Slightly smaller than the 16 acre site of Villa Park itself, it’s considerable real estate that would be an ideal size for such a development.

 

aston villa naming rights

 

While the media has made a joke of a Villa ‘theme park’ for the sake of clicks, the venture would be a serious redevelopment programme, including local community benefits (including educational and renewable energy solutions), commercial opportunities, a football museum, improved match-day parking, fan zone potential for Villa Park events & concerts, and not forgetting more jobs in the area.

Check out the full prospectus of the Liverpool Football Quarter here to give yourself an idea of what could eventually happen in the Aston area.

Obviously, such a development fits into the long-term plans category, as does increasing the size of the stadium to 50,000 by redeveloping the North Stand. Realistically, both are a long way off though, as there are more pressing concerns.

Click ‘next page’ for part 2: The Chinese Gamble and the Three Season Concern

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9 COMMENTS

  1. we are not everton, and the whole issue has nothing to do ith them. stop posting doom, you piss us off.

    • Who’s us? Wyness & Team Xia looked at Everton and by Xia’s own admission, seven other clubs. This is an interesting fact, not doom.

  2. These questions are fair, and the right ones to ask. Many fans are so desperate that they see any questioning at all as betrayal, and react badly. Yet it would be the failure to question that would be a betrayal.

    MOMS needs to ask hard questions as it is only the supporters of a club who care. Directors, players, managers, all come and go. Fans remain.

    Xia may be sincere – but then again Lerner was. Pumping your money into something and failing is the final test. Villa have broken Lerner and he is right to sell, but the next step is the most crucial one. Being a big club with a big history means nothing if you don’t have the right people making the right decisions. Ask a Forest fan. Ask a Derby fan. Ask a Leeds fan. No one has a right to top flight football.

    MOMS is right to question the motives and plans of any proposed new owner – the very future of our club depends on it.

    • Very true , But having the right motives & plans can all go awry if the right people are not in place to carry them out . Hopefully Hollis has weeded out the rotten parts of the club and any new owner will put in place those who will take the club forward

      • when will moms stop posting this doom drivel? i’m sick o it, if all it can do is promote negativity, then it shouldn’t bother at all. he supporters ousted the likes of the bendalls, ellis and lerner and will well be well placed, to do it again if the worst were to happen, as moms seems to think it will, i for one would like the football league get on with their side of the issue, so that the club can rebuild, onwards and upwards, vtid

        • If you want to walk into anything blindfolded, be my guest, but it’s not MOMS style. You call asking questions, ‘doom drivel’? What? Because it doesn’t quite fit in your safe space thinking of Xia being mega rich and loving Villa with all his heart? Well, like any modern day football owner, he’s in it for the business. That’s the reality. All I’m staying here is what happens if there’s no promotion forthcoming within three years? Will Xia’s heart still be in it? Does he have a financial plan for it? This is what the fit & proper test should ask. Because IF it goes tits up, what has happened under Lerner will seem like a picnic in comparison.

  3. Interesting article ! But questioning Xia about being a fan is easier to understand that he is a fan of Football and like Randy has apeared to have chosen Villa to support . But is that any different to the plastic fans who follow the likes of ManU , Chelsea or Liverpool get have no roots in those cities . I think not !
    Of course we should be cautious of where the money is comin from , but one can also be too cautious over spending money . And although Randy at times has splashed the cash within the club there seems to have been a philosophy of why by a race horse when we can buy a cart horse & save some dosh . But cart horses don’t win races except against horses destined to the knackers yard . Hopefully the culprit(s) for such short sightedness has left and all we have to worry about is having sufficient players to field a balanced team capable of winning regularly and not falling into the trap of not having enough horses (players) for all courses(opposition tactics)

  4. Phew! A real eye opener.
    So we have to hope we can follow the WOO along the yellow brick road to the PL, and not to League1 where the wicked witch of the west awaits, is that the east?

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