A week ago, a new owner for Aston Villa finally arrived. The club revealed to us that the ownership had changed hands and Tony Xia was now the new man to lead the Chinese revolution in claret and blue. The Guardian reported on how the young entrepreneur had bought the club and pledged to bring better days back to Villa Park. In fact, he claimed he would turn ‘Aston Villa into one of world’s top three clubs’ and told fans to forget the past … we are going to enter into a new age.’
The news was met with a hearty thumbs-up from Villa supporters, who were so thankful to be finally be rid of Lerner, they didn’t spend much time on working out which one of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich, were going to step aside to make way for Villa in the world’s top three.
Xia, the head of the Recon Group, was reciting all kinds of ambitious objectives in his big Villa plan. The Harvard Graduate outlined that promotion back to the Premier League was his main objective and that he was planning to buy a house in Birmingham so he could stay close to his new investment. It all seemed good stuff.
With the arrival of a new owner, there came a fresh outlook and that fresh outlook included the appointment of a new manager. Steve Hollis had told us that a searching team had been in place for a while and managed to whittle down the list of candidates from 50 to just three, and it seemed that Nigel Pearson was a shoe-in for the job by what everybody connected to the club were saying. But Xia, had other ideas. The Telegraph reported that Roberto Di Matteo was the favourite and was to be appointed by next week.
However, last week, Hollis’ radio interview revealed to us that a British manager with key Championship skills, such as man management, was to be the favoured option. Moyes didn’t seem to fancy it and Pearson perhaps tiring of the runaround, decided on Derby, so it looks like Di Matteo will get to spend Xia’s kitty.
‘Lotus Villa Park?’
A day into the job and the new Chinese owner proposed a major change in an interview that had Villa fans debating the issue intensely. Both the Guardian and the Mirror wrote about how ‘Dr X’ had already thrown a curve ball at Villa fans which would help him and the Recon Group overcome financial fair play. The proposal was concerning the naming rights of Villa Park and how it could be changed to something like ‘Lotus Villa Park’ in order to benefit both brands.
However, Xia did reassure fans that he wouldn’t show a careless disregard for the club’s history and instead he’d embrace it. MOMS picked up on the issue when they had spotted naming rights being touted in the initial brochure used to sell the club.
Xia said this week the name ‘Villa Park’ was safe for now though.
Doubts and Digging Detectives
Whilst the Football League and FA churned away in order to ratify Villa’s new ownership as acceptable, Villa fans and the press started to do their own due diligence on the mysterious Xia. The Telegraph wrote about how Villa had to alter their statement due to this and how fans were mystified by Tony Xia and his group’s background.
The Express and Star reported on how some unease in fans arose when Hollis incorrectly claimed that Xia played a part in the development of the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, but then a Recon Group spokeman stated that the information was actually wrong. Moreover, this spokesman also revealed that the five suggested companies that Recon and Xia owned, was actually only one and that the rest were still in the process of acquisition. This led to a feeling of unease by supporters.
Xia had admitted in a Chinese TV interview that he had considered no less than eight Premier League clubs to buy, and MOMS discovered that Keith Wyness and Xia had a couple of months ago looked at Everton as a possible acquisition; it also seemed that perhaps Wyness got some ideas for Villa along the way. Also, we raised doubts about Christopher Samuelson’s role in Xia’s plans and what would happen if there was no promotion in three years.
While there has been some contradiction in Xia’s interviews in the past week, if he’s for real, there is great potential in some of what he says, if Villa supporters show some patience. Promotion asap is the key to everything though. For the moment, it’s just a case of seeing what unravels from the fit and proper persons’ test.
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