Providing the owners and directors test proceeds with no hiccups, Aston Villa Football Club has a new owner in Chinese businessman Dr Tony Xia. Some journalists suggested yesterday that there are issues regarding some of Xia’s prospective board members. If that is the case, they will have to be cast aside and the sale should be approved if they do not have any involvement in the running of the club.
To my mind, there are three key things that Xia needs to do to get the club back on track and the fans back on side.
Firstly, he needs to appoint the right man. With David Moyes having distanced himself from the role, it now seems to be a choice between Nigel Pearson and Roberto Di Matteo, with the latter expected to be appointed imminently.
My personal choice, despite his tendency to strangle players on the sidelines, would be Pearson. Di Matteo has won the Champions League but that does not tell the whole story and Pearson knows how to get a team up to the Premier League and how to keep it there. I think Pearson is a loose cannon but perhaps that is what Aston Villa Football Club currently needs.
Secondly, Mr Xia needs to back the manager financially. Too many recent signings were made by someone other than the man in charge of the team. This is not how things should be run. If the manager does not fancy a player then it is unlikely he will feature productively and so buying him is a waste of everyone’s time and the owner’s money.
If Xia puts money on the desk of the new manager and trusts he will invest it in players he truly believes will get us back up then the squad will be all the better for it. As long as we are giving money to non-football people, decent signings will not be made and promotion will become ever more difficult.
The last point, and the one that will be most difficult for a businessman to comprehend, is to not run the club as a money-making venture. There is no doubt that this is what he is doing but if he can maintain the veneer of caring about the club for as long as possible then the likelihood of the team succeeding is increased.
So much of football is about the love and the emotion felt by individuals towards a club. Without this, we are taking another step away from the beautiful game and towards the commercialisation of football and we need to avoid that.
Xia is saying the right things and seems to be suggesting he cares about the club. That needs to be true for us to have any hope of getting out of the Championship. If it is true then we may be able to make some headway as even if we see a closer relationship between football and business, which is a partnership that is only bad for the game.