Edens: My ‘back seat’ Villa role

By Graham Hill

VILLA co-owner Wes Edens has admitted he ‘takes a back seat’ when it comes to running the club.

Edens also has the same role with NBA team Milwaukee Bucks – who also happen to have a big game on Monday.

Villa head to Wembley to face Derby for a £170million place in the Premier League.

And on Monday evening – Canadian time – Edens’ Bucks could be facing a big game of their own by hosting Toronto in game seven of the NBA Eastern Conference finals, but only if they win game six on Saturday night.

Edens told the New York Times“It’s a lot of stress. But this could truly be a unique circumstance in my life, where you have two teams deep in the playoffs with massive consequences on either side of it — that’s kind of what you’re hoping for.

“While I’m definitely anxious about it, I’m also incredibly happy to have the chance to be here.

“One of the other owners told me, ‘No one’s going to feel sorry for us,’” Edens said.

“There’s no sympathy out there, because it’s a wonderful position to be in.”

If you are in any doubt of the wealth behind Villa at the moment, Eden was described as a ‘Hedge Fund Titan’ by the New York Times when he bought the Bucks with Marc Lasry five years ago.

The newspaper says Villa fans are wary of American ownership now after the Randy Lerner years ended badly.

But Edens says that the day to day running of the club is not one of his priorities.

Edens shares operating control of Villa with the London-based business partner Nassef Sawiris but spends much less time in England

He added: “Nassef and Christian Purslow (Villa’s Chief Executive), I’ve taken a back seat to those guys.”

Edens stops just short of saying that sacking Steve Bruce and replacing him with Dean Smith was the moment that changed Villa’s season, but he added: “I’m not the kind of person who says, ‘I told you so. That’s not how I spend my life. But I feel really good that the decisions we’ve made around him turned out the way they did.”

Edens told the newspaper about his first meeting with Smith – Edens’s new acquaintance extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Dean Smith.”

“No, you’re not,” Edens shot back.

Edens told him there was only one “real Dean Smith.” Edens then asked “the other Dean Smith,” as he likes to refer to the Villa manager, to pull out his phone and do a search on the former University of North Carolina basketball coach: “He didn’t know who our Dean Smith was,” Edens said. “We joke about that now.”

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