Aston Villa’s current ownership situation under Dr Tony Xia does not make a whole lot of sense right now. Events over the past 24 hours have taken a bit more of a bizarre journey after it was revealed that high-profile football businessman Milan Mandaric had a bid pushed back for control of Aston Villa.
Tony Xia has stated that the club is ‘not up for sale’, but he’ll be open to investment. However, bids that have met his valuation for the club have twice been rejected, with one of those bids still offering him a large stake in the club. The Birmingham Mail state that Mandaric’s bid lined up with Xia’s valuation.
If Xia is holding on to the club to attract a better quality of buyer, he’d be hard-pressed to find a higher-profile figure than Mandaric. Mandaric was the man behind the Portsmouth revival in the 00’s that resulted in trophies and European nights at Fratton Park. He also helped pass Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday to new owners in a better state. He’s a fixer. That much is clear. Of course, there’s money to be made from flipping these football clubs - but I wouldn’t blame people for making a quick buck off the back of Villa as long as Villa, themselves, benefited.
In this current situation under Xia, I don’t know how Villa are benefitting. Despite numerous statements, there’s still a dark cloud over the club. Due to mis-management at a number of levels, the club will have to cash in on key assets at cut-price values. I worry about the staff at the club, I worry about the players, and I worry about the assets. Simply, I don’t know how Xia can fix this with constant loans. It will end at some point and it’s possible that Villa won’t be in a good place when we arrive at that destination. They will lose key players, they will be burnt-out, the bank will be dry and the club will have to settle as a Championship also-ran.
So why did Xia reject the bid? The owner must now face questioning from all angles. Promising bids are coming in for the club - they won’t save players like Jack Grealish - but they will ensure Villa can pay the bills. The latter is incredibly important. Could this be another gamble by the owner? Will he chance Villa getting promoted so he can sell at a higher price?
It’s getting bizarre at Villa, and that is only pushing fans and critics of the club to jump to a number of conclusions. The entire situation isn’t helped by leaks and reports that point to a different truth than the one we may be acknowledging. We all thought recently-dismissed CEO Keith Wyness would be suing the club for ‘unfair dismissal’, when news has broken that he’ll likely be taking a tortious inference case forwards. This reveals a whole new story - that Wyness was dismissed for ‘doing his job’ - be that finding new investors, or taking the club into administration to prevent it from being actively harmed. We’ll wait to see what comes of that before making a conclusion. If you want some opinion though, I’d bet my last fiver on Tony Xia waiting on this until the last minute as he needs to save face with his domestic backers. He won’t deal with people outside of China and will keep the club, with administration probably the only thing that will tear him out of it.
I sincerely hope that my opinion doesn’t match the facts to come. I just want everything to go back to the way it was, but it can’t. It’s too late now. Who knows how this will unfold.