The Good Doctor
Aston Villa owner Tony Xia has been back in B6 the past week or so, after a few months away from Villa Park. His presence certainly led to some good fortune for the team with three straight wins during his time in Birmingham, before he jetted back off to China.
While his first year of ownership didn’t exactly go to plan on the pitch, it failed to diminish the Villa owner’s popularity with most Villa supporters.
While Villa stumbled in their first year in the Championship, Xia was seen to be upholding his end of the bargain by investing the necessary money in trying to build a promotion team.
Unfortunately, Xia and Villa didn’t get the return on their outlay they were expecting from players such as McCormack, Gollini, Elphick, Tshibola, Hogan and Lansbury.
It’s been a learning curve, but at least Steve Bruce has allowed the club to box clever in the last transfer window, especially with some astute loans, to give Xia a very decent chance of experiencing promotion this time round.
MOMS conducted its annual supporter survey as this season kicked off and asked fans to score the new Villa owner out of ten in relation to this question:
‘What’s your feelings about owner Tony Xia? How do you rate him after his first season?’
In a survey of 400 Villans, the average mark was close to 8/10 (7.93), which was an impressive score.
The fact Villans were willing to be patient despite finishing in the lower half of the Championship table is testament to how they have taken to their new owner.
Much of his popularity has come via his use of Twitter, which has given him a platform to create a distinct persona that contrasted drastically from Villa’s previous owner.
On top of the list of things that the club previously did wrong in relation to its supporters, Randy Lerner’s hermit-like approach backfired considerably with fans, who deserved a little more communication and transparency.
Xia has been very smart with his PR and engagement on the platform.
Enthusiasm and transparency, especially on transfers, has been key to his ‘One of Us’ notoriety and also for building trust and good will.
Terms like ‘Villa Hater’ and ‘Jerknalist’, and Emoji transfer equations are all ™ Doctor Tony. Even an FA fine for calling a referee a ‘Villa Hater’ hasn’t dampened his social media spirit, with him recently flipping the bird with an emoji.
Popularity gained through a Twitter account isn’t a novel thing, after all, Donald Trump quickly learnt it was far from a gimmick and it could be used to control the agenda. It certainly played a big part in him becoming president.
Likewise, Xia knows, as soon as he tweets, the Birmingham Mail and a bunch of other media will scramble to run a story on his tweet and fan accounts will also spread his words.
So, what do Villa fans think of Doctor Tony’s use of Twitter?
Again, the feedback is good. 79.8% reacted positively to it in the survey with only 2% declaring it to be ‘Trump-like embarassing’
While some have considered Xia’s use of Twitter ‘unprofessional’ at times, it’s brings a sense of fun and unpredictability that has to be considered a positive force in the modern game.
As long as it is natural and personal, and not conjured up in cahoots with the Villa marketing department, it’s all good.
In the end though, it’s results and not tweets that ultimately determine the popularity of any owner. In that respect, thankfully, things are starting to fall into place.