In 2016 when Randy Lerner finally left our beloved club their was an air of expectation when Tony Xia a little known Chinese business man bought the club but this quickly turned into a nightmare that almost destroyed us. First of all the relegation from the top flight for the first time since the 86/87 season was painful enough but what was to follow was even worse. The club were wreck less in signing players and paying premier league wages whilst in the championship the club was hemorrhaging money left right and centre. In the first season in the championship were below expectations and failing to gain promotion back to the premier league at the first time of asking was a major blow. The accounts showed that Villa spent 88 million pound but had only paid 58 million in cash leaving a 30 million pound deficit we owed Fulham 6 million for Ross McCormack, 2 million to West Brom for James Chester & Brentford 3 million for Scott Hogan and were at risk of losing our most prized asset Jack Grealish if things were not sorted out. The following season we made the play off final where it was heartbreak for us coming up short to a well organized Fulham. At 7pm on Saturday May 26, the look on Aston Villa owner Tony Xia’s face said it all.
When that final whistle was blown in the club’s make-or-break playoff clash with Fulham, all dreams of promotion to the Premier League evaporated, and with them the prospect of a £160m upturn in the club’s finances. Within weeks the reason for Xia’s despondency became clear. An unpaid tax bill and a threatened winding-up order showed the scale of the club’s financial woes, while turmoil in the boardroom saw the exit of chief executive Keith Wyness, followed by an exodus of other key staff. The club was on its knees and in need of rescuing. It was music to every Villa fans ears when there news of a take over from NSWE, a company jointly owned and controlled by businessman Nassef Sawiris’ group NNS and businessman Wes Edens following this take over the clubs fortune have been on an upward curve knowing the club was now in safe hands and was heading in the right direction. We made several superb signings with championship experience and didn’t pay over the odds for them where previously we had. In the transfer window we signed John Mcginn from Hibernian for 2.5 million which has to be one of the best signing we have made since Ashley Young in 2007 and we made use of the loan market bringing in Tammy Abraham in from Chelsea who is a proven goal scorer within the division and Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United to sure up the defence it was a difficult start to the season winning just 2 games of the first 6 and losing Jack Grealish to injury for a period of time was tough on the side this form left the chairman with a decision to make regarding then manager Steve Bruce which consequently cost him his job following the draw with Preston at home.
Local lad and Villa fan Dean Smith was brought in from Brentford bringing John Terry in as his assistant. It all changed from the January transfer window the acquisition of Tyrone Mings on loan for the remainder of the season was a fantastic bit of business. It was no coincident that our form picked back up with the return of Jack to the side where we went on a fantastic run winning 10 games on the bounce to do in any league is extremely difficult but to do it in the championship is incredible considering just how tough the league is and as a result of this the club found itself in the play offs semi final where they faced local rivals West Brom in a tough and close contest over the two legs Villa came out on top in the shootout thanks to heroics of Jed Steer. Now in the play final with the previous years experience spurring them on. We sealed promotion back to the premier league where we belong following a 2-1 win against Derby County with John Mcginn and Amar El-Ghazi.
With an aging squad Villa had to have a overhaul of the squad. The recruitment in the summer was questioned after a sticky start to life back in the premier league conceding lots of goals and sloppy play costing games that should have been won and seemingly looking like being relegated back to the championship after just won season in the premier league. There were calls for the owners to sack Dean Smith but they stuck by their man and due to unforeseen and strange circumstances the season was brought to a halt due Covid 19. Villa used this time to their advantage. Hours of practise and hard work showed coming back from the break Villa were inspired and resilient and with a bit of luck and hard work we survived relegation on the last day of the season.
With growing talk and speculation that captain Jack Grealish was likely to depart the owners sat Grealish down and sold him the vision for the next 5 years to which Grealish bought into a signed a new long term contract with the club which as we all know was the best news to receive and the transfers reflect that signing Martinez, Cash, Watkins and Barkley on loan just goes to show how far we have come in such a short period of time under the new owners. There is a feel good factor at Aston Villa this season and we are starting to become a force in the premier league again and that is largely down to the owners and the backing they have given Dean Smith. The financial side of things the club is one of the wealthiest clubs in the premier and according to the Athletic we owe the least money in the whole division. That stat is quite remarkable really considering we were on the verge of being wound up back in 2016. It really is an exciting time to be a Villa fan.
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