What a crazy few weeks it has been for Aston Villa Football Club. When the news broke on Wednesday evening that the club has been sold to Dr. Tony Xia, I could scarcely believe what I was hearing.
It felt quite surreal given the time it has taken the outgoing Lerner to find his preferred buyer. For this, Steve Hollis deserves enormous credit. I don’t think the huge impact the chairman has made in his short tenure at the helm of Aston Villa can be underestimated. He has guided the club through an exceptionally difficult period and has hopefully left us on the path to redemption.
As for the incoming owner, I am excited. There have been a lot of questions in the press regarding his finances, credability and even birth date. After reading the article in ‘The Daily Mail’, which was written following a one-hour interview with Xia, I am feeling quite confident the claims Xia is making will hold water.
I hope that, whoever the man appointed is, the new manager gets the full £50 million mentioned to bring the club straight back to the Premier League with a base to build on to re-establish the club in the top flight. Talk of taking Aston Villa back into Europe is a pipe dream at the moment; for now, we would all accept a return to, and a few seasons of stability back in, the top flight.
Then we have Xia’s more colourful claim that he has plans to turn Aston into a footballing theme park. I think that would be absolutely brilliant. A quick spin on the Dublin Dodgems or the Withe Water Slide pre-match would certainly bring in the tourists and alter the pre-match ritual somewhat. In all seriousness, it would turn Aston Villa into a huge brand – and that is the new owner’s plan, it seems, in China at least. If this can be achieved the sky would be the limit. The amount of money that can be generated from successfully marketing the club overseas is not something to be sniffed at; it would generate revenue the like of which Aston Villa Football Club has never seen. Of course, this could be years off and every fan’s immediate concern is securing a speedy return to the Premier League.
As a Villa fan, I am excited for the first time in a very long time. With a little bit of luck, this feeling of optimism will develop into joy as Aston Villa returns to its rightful place in English football.
Up the Villa!