The first clue that a new Aston Villa owner was potentially on their way would be an announcement of a new Villa manager… or a sudden bookies favourite out of the left field.
With a sudden rush of bets on Roberto Di Matteo, from out of no where, he’s suddenly the 4/6 favourite for the Villa manager’s job (Paddy Power odds), with the previous favourite Nigel Pearson slipping to 5/2.
Di Matteo was originally linked to the Villa manager’s job back in January 2013 to take over from an under pressure Paul Lambert, after his Tony Barton routine at Chelsea, taking over in the second half of the season to lead the club to their first Champions League win (as well as an FA Cup win). Of course, ala Barton with Villa in 1982, it was with an already well-established team.
Long Haul Guy?
Di Matteo only lasted eight months at Chelsea and he’s yet to manage two complete seasons at any club.
He was at MK Dons for a year, where they were a losing play-off team, before taking over at the Baggies and getting them promoted from the Championship, but he was sacked in February the following season, after poor form in the Premier League.
He lasted just one season at Schalke too. He resigned despite finishing sixth and qualifying for the Europa League.
If a new owner really wants a manager to build something at Villa from the root up and see it through, is Di Matteo the man for the long haul?
That is a debate for another day, if he ends up the Villa boss. In the meantime, his appearance in the managerial race does add to the clues in unravelling who the potential new owner is…
New Owner Link and Progress
What gives credence to Di Matteo being a serious candidate for the Villa job, from a MOMS POV, is MOMS received correlating news in the last 24 hours that due diligence and financial checking is currently taking place of a potential buyer of Villa (this is not a swift process, hence the recent radio silence on any new owners). From the scraps of info we’ve been told about it, in summation, it potentially looks like a revival of a previous European-fronted bid.
With this in mind, if you were doing a Sherlock Holmes and join some dots (and this is only educated guesswork), the most likely candidate is the Geneva-based fun IM 1872 who had allegedly previously lined up backing from the Asian arm of Barings Bank, based in Hong Kong.
However, it was previously reported in the Daily Telegraph that ‘executives based in the Chinese territory vetoed the deal over concerns that ownership of a football club carried too much risk’.
IM 1872’s offer was also understood to be below the requested £150m at the time, but the drop in price to £100m (which includes some debt payment) could have potentially perked their interest again.
The firm in 2014 became a major investor in German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin (a pre-season friendly in Berlin for Villa would be great!) to the tune of 61.2 million Euros and has actively been looking towards English football for further investment opportunities.
While it’s an admittedly a tenuous link, Di Matteo’s last job was in the Bundesliga with FC Schalke, where he did ok.
After yo-yoing in and out of the top tier of the Bundesliga in recent seasons, Hertha had enjoyed a bit of a renaissance since IM 1872’s investment partnership. This season, Hertha have featured in the Champions League spots in the Bundesliga for most of the season, until a recent late slump in form has seen them drop to sixth.
It’s an encouraging sign, if IM 1872 did become involved in a Villa takeover, that they have been a proven catalyst for change and improvement.
The scope of IM 1872’s ambition remains to be seen though. Are they the middleman for Far East investment into Villa, as was mooted with their original approach to Lerner? Who they would appoint on board level to oversea their investment, would certainly be interesting, as that would be the first indication to how serious they were and who will be the public face of the operation.
While this is all hypothetical at present, it does seem more realistic than some of the potential owners heralding from the United States that have been reported. At the same time, it dampens a little the current Villa chairman’s public optimism in terms of the potential scale of ambition of the new owners.
Whatever is at play, at least the takeover wheels seem to be fully spinning now.
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