Aston Villa’s owners have taken every possible action to wipe Dr Tony Xia away from the club. They have bought out his share. They have removed his name. They have filed documents to order his removal from the holding companies that own Aston Villa FC and its stadium. They have paid off his debt to former Villa owner Randy Lerner. They have focused on new architectural plans and improvements.
Yet, Xia will not go away.
A day before Villa’s match against Brighton, the news broke that Xia is a ‘wanted man’ after a court in China issued a warrant for his arrest due to allegations of unpaid debts. The story is sound enough, but the wanted poster itself leaves much to be desired - and although it might be official, it could certainly look a lot more ‘official’.
It wasn’t long before Xia shot back, over Twitter (of course). He may as well have said “FAKE NEWS!”
Ironical experience as I was trapped by competitor while I been away China.I haven’t been arrested as born out by being able to send this tweet. I am not in hiding. The claims are false &been created by a local competitor attempting to cause damage to me. Legal action to follow.— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) October 18, 2019
Villa’s previous owner claims that these allegations are false and manufactured, but he carried on to other matters, namely responding to the eternal pissing contest between him and his former CEO Keith Wyness.
Through his stream of consciousness tweets, Xia projects a desperate aura. He accuses another third party of a stitch up, he calls out the lies. He is right, and others are wrong and this is how it has always, always been. According to Xia though, every single criticism to have ever existed of him, is a lie. Accusations of his weak cashflow were brought to the table by ‘jerknalists’, doubts raised by fans were ‘shut down’ by ‘facts’. What we know from experience here is that people who constantly accuse others of lying and state that they are right are always right and always telling the truth.
Xia was given the benefit of the doubt by the vast majority of Aston Villa fans, and his tubthumbing mannerisms won hearts. For a time, he was great. For a time, he was the best thing ever. All the faith given to him seemed to be gamed. Xia appealed for trust and had far too big of a credit line with our emotions. Was it as sinister as gaslighting? Was it misguided? At any rate, it all fell apart and Xia was at the helm as we fell towards ruin in 2018.
Barely anything during the Xia reign was rational. It was all emotional, and maybe that felt nice - to be loved (if we were loved at all, if Villa were truly loved at all). Xia gamed post-truth, emotions and fake news to bunker down his position.
Back to the allegations - someone is out for Xia, and whether it is an unnamed competitor or truly a Chinese court remains to be seen. While there is the somewhat romantic conjuration that this might end up as ‘Catch Me If You Can’ style caper, it’ll likely end with Xia being picked up by the first plodding Gumshoe to stumble across him asleep in a Bella Italia.
If the allegations are true, that is.
As we know from Xia already, every negative claim about him is a ‘lie’. The real truth is buried somewhere, and it’s possible we’d refuse to believe it when it is presented to us anyway due to the rollercoaster ride we’ve been on with Xia. For Villa fans, the truth hardly matters though. The sum of this equation is clear.
We all stopped caring a long, long time ago.