Despite Villa's purchase by Tony Xia of the Recon Group, many Villa fans are worried bout Dr. Xia's history, or lack of it. It's almost a similar situation to that of our previous owner, Randy Lerner - but we could ground our fears in the fact that Lerner owned the Cleveland Browns and NFL ownership in turn, signified wealth, money and power.
I was interested in the popularity of Lerner before he purchased Aston Villa in the August of 2006, so I turned to Google, our holy empirical collector of personal data to see if there's a story.
And there might just be.
Google Trends can create illustrations and graphs based on the absolute data of your search history. A figure of 100 represents the peak and the other numbers are a percentage based off of the absolute figure.
Looking at the chart below, we can see that Lerner hit his absolute in 2006, in fact, he hits the peak in August 2006, the month when he bought Aston Villa.
But why is Lerner scoring so low before he bought Villa? My theory is this:
Everyone who needed to know who Lerner was before he bought the Villans, knew who he was via his family or traditional media. There was no need to google him, Clevelanders knew who he was because his dad, Al, ran the Browns. In 2006, it's possible people would have relied more on word-of-mouth and newspapers than Google. It might seem to slide confirmation bias into my argument, but it offers a reasonable explanation.
Lerner peaks in 2006 because he bought Villa and naturally, Villa fans would turn to the internet to find about someone who lives in another continent, the information they needed was lodged in the newspapers of the United States of America. Naturally, they used Google.
The data is paralleled with that of Dr Tony Xia.
Before Lerner brought the Villa, Xia was being researched half as much as Lerner, in fact - in 2005 Xia was googled as much as Lerner during September. The data explodes when Lerner buys Villa and hits the absolute and the data explodes again when Xia buys Villa.
We can draw a number of conclusions from this, and the main one is that people didn't care who these two men were before they brought Villa and there's more available to know about Randy Lerner because quite simply, his business dealings are A) based in sports and B) based in the Western world.
The savvy among you will recount that Google, is not available in China - meaning that all the personal information available in Xia's homeland will be restricted to those with access to China's equivalents to Twitter and Google. Not only that, since Cantonese and Mandarin do not translate directly into English, any translation that can be offered simply doesn't amount to the full story.
This means one thing: English speaking Villans who aren't knowledgeable about business in the Far East are simply in the dark and will be until they are guided by those amongst us with said knowledge and language skills. This can lead to fear, because what's a world without instant information, but as we know - that's not a reality in China.
It's easy to equate the lack of paperwork or information that we can understand into it being a complete lack of paperwork in the first place, but just because we can't find it doesn't mean it's not there.
Going back to the data we do have, it tells the same interesting story - people didn't care about Lerner or Xia until they bought Villa. The cultural barriers will need to be broken down in the coming weeks, but please don't equate that into fear or worse - xenophobia, we simply don't have the full set of data that we need.