Football: China’s Xia completes Aston Villa takeover

Xia Jiantong, the chairman of Recon Group.
Xia Jiantong, the chairman of Recon Group.PHOTO: REUTERS

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) – China’s Tony Xia completed his takeover of relegated former Premier League side Aston Villa on Tuesday after passing the English Football League’s owners and directors test.

Xia, whose Chinese name is Xia Jiantong, purchased Villa last month for a reported US$87 million (S$117 million) from American Randy Lerner and has pledged to restore the club to its former glory.

Villa have been English Champions seven times and won the old European Cup in 1982.

The 39-year-old had already made his first move in that direction by appointing Champions League winning coach Roberto di Matteo as the new manager.

“Aston Villa is delighted to confirm the sale of the club to Recon Group, owned by Dr Tony Xia,” read a statement on the Aston Villa website.

“The completion of 100 per cent ownership from Randy Lerner has been rubber-stamped by the Football League.

“Dr Xia has been informed he passed the owners and directors test and following the completion of paperwork today is now the club’s new owner and chairman.

“A new board will be appointed later this week.”

Villa were relegated for the first time in 29 years this past season amid acrimonious fan protests against their underperforming players and Lerner.

Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde were both sacked after disappointing spells as Villa’s manager over the last 12 months.

Lerner had been trying to sell Villa for two years and he finally found a buyer after slashing his asking price.

Fans will hope Xia now follows the lead of Thai-owned English champions Leicester City, rather than that of their city rivals Birmingham City, who were bought by a one-time Hong Kong hairdresser who was later jailed for money-laundering.