July 23 – Aston Villa is under new majority control after billionaire businessmen Naseef Sawiris and Wes Edens bought a reported 55% controlling stake in the club for £30 million from Chinese owner Tony Xia.
The club had fallen into financial difficulty after gambling on big money players in a bid for a return to the Premier League and its guaranteed £160 million income stream. Villa lost to Fulham in the play-off final and with costs running at £5 million a month and £70 million needed to meet next season’s operating costs, the club quickly ran into trouble with tax demands.
Xia initially wanted to sell 30% of the club before accepting the bid from Egyptian Sawiris and American Edens via their jointly controlled investment vehicle NSWE. A statement said that they would “immediately inject significant investment capital into the Club,” and that the deal has been approved by the English Football League (EFL).
Xia will become co-chairman and remain on the board. “To have come so close to achieving promotion last season was a humbling experience. In finding such strong partners as Nassef and Wes we’re gearing up to fight again and bring back the success that this Club deserves and we all so want to provide it with,” said Xia.
“The future is exciting on a number of fronts and I look forward to exploring further business collaborations.”
Sawiris has a net worth of £5.2 billion according to Forbes, based on his construction business in Egypt. Edens was a partner at Lehman Brothers and BlackRock before founding Fortress Investments. He is a co-owner of the NBA franchise the Milwaukee Bucks.
In a joint statement that committed to strengthening the playing squad for the coming season, Sawiris and Edens said: “As lifelong football fans, we are excited and privileged to have become part of this great Club. We believe that together we bring business and sports experience that will help strengthen the Club to ensure Aston Villa can return to its rightful place in the upper echelons of English Football.
“Our goal is to bring sustainable success to the Club, building on its rich history while respecting its loyal fan base and unique culture. We understand that we are stewards of Aston Villa on behalf of the fans and we take that responsibility seriously.”
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