According to a report in The Times, Aston Villa will consider a sale of Villa Park to help ease financial fair play concerns should they fail to beat Derby County in the Play-Off final on the 27th of May.
The report states that a number of clubs are set to follow in the footsteps of Derby County, who sold their stadium to owner Mel Morris and then leased it back in order to post a profit.
It has long been rumoured that Aston Villa would need to engineer a solution to any potential woes caused by spending in breach of the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules that only allow football clubs in the EFL structure to lose a certain amount of money over a multi-year period. It appears that as a failsafe, Villa may very well lease the stadium to itself via the ownership group. This is an existing loophole in the rules that will no doubt be shut tight in the coming months.
YorkshireAVFC on Twitter noted that Aston Villa's ownership group had renamed a shell company as 'NSWE STADIUM LIMITED' - which could be a tell that Villa will sell their stadium, essentially to themselves, should they fail to get promoted this season.
I was asked a week or so ago to look at the latest company house filings re company name changes. Interesting that following Derby selling their stadium and Sheff W rumoured to be doing a similar thing, AVFC have renamed a dormant shell company NSWE Stadium Limited on 14/05/19 pic.twitter.com/bbIivMQqrL— Dave J (Yorkshire AVFC) (@yorkshireAVFC) May 17, 2019
Of course, Villa might just be operating this shell company to handle any future stadium developments.
The report also names Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday as two other clubs who may yet opt for this approach. Birmingham City were already punished for breaching the rules - which begs the question: why did they not consider the method employed by Derby County?
Will Aston Villa sell the stadium to their owners if they fail to get promoted? It remains to be seen - and while the EFL won't be tremendously happy - it'll require them to do some actual work to close the loophole.
As for now, it's a completely hypothetical situation that will only require action should Villa lose at Wembley stadium. We'll see. On another note, nobody knows if Villa's FFP situation requires direct action by the club - and this could all just be a safety option.
Anyway, it won't happen if Villa do the thing and get promoted.