Xia mess is consigned to history

By Graham Hill

SO, it’s farewell to Tony Xia – the man who almost ruined Aston Villa.

The Chinese businessman arrived at the club in 2016 with a promise to get Villa back into the Premier League and then challenge to be Champions of Europe as they were in 1982.

Sounds crazy now of course. New owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris have not gone that far in terms of sound bite promises to fans.

The first thing he did was to abandon plans to appoint Nigel Pearson as manager as Villa began what was to be a three-season stint in the Championship.

Instead, in came Roberto di Matteo – after all, here was a man who had won the Champions League, he surely could not fail, could he?

He did and his place came Steve Bruce – with John Terry arriving the following season as Villa’s star signing.

The kitchen sink was being thrown at promotion – and all we really had to go on in terms of Xia’s thinking was a series of Twitter emojis.

Eventually, the car crash of Villa’s finances was revealed when they lost the 2018 Play-off Final to Fulham.

The cash simply was not there to function as a club – and Jack Grealish would not have been sold to raise money. Villa almost went under. Even a disinterested Randy Lerner did not let this happen, and it definitely would never have got to such a stage under Doug Ellis.

But the rest is history, Edens and Sawiris came in to rescue the club, Villa were promoted and now Xia no longer has any connection with them.

He arrived as a potential saviour, now he is merely an unwanted footnote.

Xia stayed on as a minority shareholder and vice-chairman the arrival of Edens and Sawiris.

But documents filed at Companies House confirm his directorship has now been terminated, while he has also lost his position on the club’s board.

Sawiris and Edens stepped in to pay a £30million loan owed to Lerner after Villa were promoted, in exchange for what was left of Xia’s shares.

The Express & Star says Xia’s shareholding had also further been reduced after he failed to pay back a substantial loan he received from the new owners as part of last summer’s takeover.

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