‘You couldn’t ask for more’ – MOMS on Tony Xia

Reality Check

Last month MOMS published an article looking at what was behind Villa’s underwhelming season (i.e. not even being close to the play-offs) and at Steve Bruce’s situation after poor performances and results, which at the time of the original article had seen Villa winless in 2017 and 17th in the Championship, before the recent upturn in form.

Many Villa supporters who read the article properly praised it and expressed that it echoed their thoughts on the current situation – namely that owner Tony Xia had largely done as much as he could supporting managers and that ‘stability’ in terms of manager shouldn’t be decided upon now (was it wise for Keith Wyness to publicly say Bruce would stay even if Villa got relegated on his watch?). Surely it was better to see if there was any real improvement under Bruce over the course of the rest of this deadwood season?

In short, it was the reality of the situation, but judging by a couple of Tony Xia’s tweets in response to the MOMS article, the Villa owner seemed to have missed the sentiment of the article, saying he ‘felt insulted’ by it.

Considering the article was simply taking a rational look at events and the reality behind Villa’s failure this season and wasn’t too critical to any one in particular, the owner came across as a little sensitive on Twitter.

As per normal, the media cobbled together their standard ‘Tony Xia has tweeted’ stories with little in way of analysis to their content or the original article. They missed the fact that some of the content of the tweets were factually inaccurate.

Research

Worst of all was a guest blog on the Birmingham Mail website that inferred that the MOMS article was abusive to the chairman.

The article read:

‘Doctor Tony has felt the need to defend himself on social media over the weekend. I get that as chairman you have to carry the can for certain things, but does he really warrant any abuse?’

Xia didn’t need to defend himself against anything, because like the ‘Bowling Green incident’, this ‘abuse’ didn’t exist – there wasn’t any abuse in the article or as a result of it.

If the writer hadn’t perhaps been blindsided in an attempt to seek favouritism with Doctor Tony and actually read the article that directly sparked his own blog (he admitted on social media, he hadn’t), he would have seen his own thoughts actually aligned with the original MOMS article.

In regards to Xia, the writer stated in his blog, ‘I genuinely don’t think he could have done any more’, which as you’ll see below, mirrors exactly what MOMS had said (‘you couldn’t ask for more’).

There is no real issue issue here though beyond Xia’s arguably unnecessary tweets…

tony xia tweet

1. Felt Insulted?

Anybody who read the article properly will have understood it to be complementary of Tony Xia’s effort in regards of the club.

‘Xia has certainly put the money into his gamble, whether it has been covered by parachute payments and player sales, the intent has very much been there. In fact, you couldn’t ask for more.’

I’ll say it again, since he’s been at the club, YOU COULDN’T ASK FOR MORE from Tony Xia’s efforts from the point of view of his financial investment and his enthusiasm for the club.

2. Parachute payments don’t cover half wages

Xia’s comment on Twitter regarding parachute payments not covering even half the wages is simply incorrect.

Here’s the breakdown of the parachute payments:

In season one, 2016-17, Villa would get £40 million

In season two, 2017-18, Villa would get £33 million

In season three, 2018-19, Villa would get £14 million.

If you take this season’s parachute payment of £40m, Xia’s comment would mean that Villa’s wages are over £80m this season. That is simply not the case. Villa CEO Keith Wyness admitted live on BBC WM radio that the wages were well below a speculated figure of £70m. So Xia’s tweet is misinformation.

The reference to parachute payments in his tweet, is also out of context to the original actual mention of it, which read as follows:

‘Whether it has been covered by parachute payments and player sales, the intent has very much been there. In fact, you couldn’t ask for more.’

Which was essentially saying, regardless of where the money has come from – whether it be the owner’s pocket, parachute payments or player sales – the fact of the matter is it has been spent.

Again, this was commending the actions of Xia and his outlay in supporting his two Villa managers.

As Wyness suggested on the radio, something must have been lost in translation on Xia’s end.

3. RDM – Champions League

I find it very hard to believe that if Roberto Di Matteo hadn’t won the Champions League at Chelsea, he would have ended up the boss at Aston Villa.

Considering some doubts that MOMS and other Villa supporters had about the appointment, it’s safe to say it did have an influence on the decision to employ him as Villa boss, since a lot was made of Di Matteo’s European Cup win at the time by Xia himself in interviews and on his own social media…

 

tony xia roberto di matteo

 

4. Villa not bought for a business purpose?

It would be very naive to believe that Villa was not bought for a business purpose. If it wasn’t, what was Aston Villa bought for? Should we be worried?!

Nobody would spend over £62m+ (with more to come, if promoted) on anything that isn’t business. I mean, come on!

For starters, Premier League TV rights money and the worldwide exposure that the league brings is front and centre of Xia and Recon’s plans. It would be to whoever bought the club.

Whatever the Villa owner tweets to keep the Twitter fanboys happy, when talking to more serious outlets, he’s more pragmatic.

“Now that we have control of Villa, we will leverage this opportunity and use it to further our business in the sports industry,” said Tony Xia in his interview with Bloomberg this month.

He was referring to Villa very much as a business there. But ‘business’ isn’t a dirty work, it’s the reality of football today and nothing to be shy about. Likewise it was business when he was looking to buy other clubs like Southampton and Everton (and others), before he purchased Villa.

Is it also a coincidence that Chinese companies have bought the four main West Midlands clubs, gained a major building contract in the area, seen a major Chinese car manufacturer move into Birmingham  and have increased political influence in the region too?

It’s very much boom time in Birmingham for Chinese investment, and Xia, you’d imagine, will want to be front and centre of that with the club and potential ‘smart city’ development around it.

Obviously with Villa slumping badly in recent years, there was a need to spend and speculate to accumulate (gain promotion), so there won’t be a profit in the short-term, as Xia’s tweet refers to, but of course it must be an aim to balance the books and also to leverage other business opportunities through the club.

The reason Villa have spent more than any team in the Championship this season is clearly in an attempt to gain promotion, as the financial rewards of that would cover the investment and allow Xia to set his main plans for the club into action.

Also, the worldwide press and media coverage alone, that dramatically increased the profile of Tony Xia and the Recon Group worldwide, was worth thousands, if not millions. Before the purchase, there was very little trace of Xia, even on the internet.

All of the above are ‘business purposes’. There is nothing wrong with this and it is all to be expected in the modern age of football, as it evolves. Manchester City is no doubt a template in terms of how a club can diversify it’s interests and expand into different markets (both direct and indirect) as well as growing its core concern.

From Xia’s moves in various other sectors and countries, Villa is very much part of a bigger and wider reaching business plan, that could have exciting results for the club, if all goes to plan.

‘Moaning’?

Are you talking to me?

Villa were 17th in the second tier of English football at the time of the original article. Are we not allowed to question what was happening? The team at the time had recorded seven defeats in eight games and continually played some of the worst football I’ve seen from a Villa team in my decades of watching them.

This season has been a massive anti-climax, which is hard to sugar coat. The article was a fair and measured assessment of the situation. Arguably, the only actual ‘insulting’ action was the inappropriate tweets from someone who has supported the club for less than a year, labelling the genuine concern of those who have supported Villa for decades, as ‘moaning’.

Rash tweets from the Xia account – from Ian Holloway bashing to talk of top three in the world and Champions League in five seasons – has been part of the intrigue of following Villa’s fortunes this season. It’s all good fun, because most learned supporters know the reality of football and the scope of Villa’s situation.

Of course, Xia’s aim was promotion in the first season, as he indicated at the start of the season:

 


Xia’s answer:

Most Villans wanted instant promotion, but they knew it might not be feasible (in the MOMS survey most voted it would take two seasons), so we’re not guilty of the knee-jerk ‘moaning’ that the Villa owner is inferring here.

Are we concerned as supporters? Yes. That is why we question, discuss and ask about the club’s plight and the now needed ‘contingency plan’ that evidently wasn’t in place at the start of the season.

It’s because we care about our club due to an emotional investment that goes far beyond any financial one. Once the Villa owner truly understands that, the genuine mutual respect that will grow, should serve the club very well in the long term.

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