For many people right now, this is shaping up to be a summer to remember. Aston Villa is in desperate need of investment, there is a growing feeling that England could genuinely do something special in the World Cup and the country is currently basking in a sweltering summer heatwave which is only contributing to the feel-good factor.
However, for Villa supporters, despite the weather outside, there is a certain gloom lurking which cannot be shifted right now. The state of our beloved club simply cannot be ignored and is providing day-to-day concerns for each and every one of us.
The longer the saga goes on, the more I can’t help feeling that whatever happens, we’re going to be in big trouble. Chairman and owner Dr Tony Xia is apparently looking for investment from several different sources. And for me, that spells only more trouble.
It seems that even the solutions being outlined seem messy. By all accounts, Xia has turned down a couple of offers for sizeable chunks of the club. A ‘European’ consortium supposedly was looking for a controlling 51 per cent stake in the club. And reports are also surfacing that an ‘American’ group have had an offer for 30 per cent of the club rejected also.
There are several problems with this for me. Firstly, what would be the point of Xia remaining at the club? I have previously said that if he has the money to continue then ok; come back with a different strategy, bite the bullet and fund it.
However, it is clear that Xia doesn’t have, or can’t source, funds freely. It seems odd to me that he would be looking to stay involved with the club when he can’t service the club in the capacity needed. Selling a portion of the club seems like a hotchpotch solution to keep us going in the short term in the hope that he’ll be able to somehow turn things around.
The other problem with this is that we’d pretty much still be an almighty mess, just with even more people involved. How many people are in these consortiums? Would their share of the club be split equally ensuring that each person involved gets a say on how to run the club, in addition to Xia’s input? Imagine the board meetings.
It really feels like it would be a case of too many cooks. And the thought of an American investment is in itself is terrifying. The list of U.S involvement in British football clubs is an endless list of failures. Hicks and Gillett at Liverpool. Ellis Short at Sunderland. And a certain Randolph Lerner. The insistence to run our clubs in a similar way to a Major League outfit or NFL franchise just doesn’t work.
Despite needing money, the seeking of a consortium to only part own the club is a huge mistake in my opinion. It’s potentially chaotic. There is a high risk of tension and disagreements. A clash of ideas is almost a certainty somewhere along the line. And the supporters will be left with a group of faceless individuals making the choices and with no way to communicate. And it’s likely that the people involved will have little or no experience in running a football club. Yet again.
It’s clear that time and time again that the clubs that perform well on the pitch are those that are run well from the top. And we are a million miles away from a situation where we will be a well-run club. And I can only see things getting worse.
Investment is one thing. But simply flogging a part of our club off as a way to inject money is perhaps the worst solution for us right now. Even if a consortium had to come in, I’d much prefer they took over the club as a whole.
I imagine some sort of deal will be concluded sooner rather than later. Once things get so far down the line it’s usually a matter of time. And let’s face it; we’re hardly in a financial position to turn down the money we need to survive.
I hope I’m wrong and if it does go through, I hope we gain a group of people who only want the very best for the club and can implement some sort of strategy to at least have us challenging on the pitch next season. Right now, I really can’t see that happening though.