English Premiership

Chinese tycoon completes Villa takeover

2016-06-14 21:06
Tony Xia (Getty Images)

Birmingham - 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 $87 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 percent 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.

There have been some questions raised though about Xia's takeover and whether he really did have the financial muscle to complete it.

Those questions revolved around his academic credentials and background as well as the extent of his business interests.

A native of Zhejiang, known as the cradle of private companies in China, Xia's biography shows him to rule a vast corporate empire with interests ranging from health and new energy to financial services and tourism.

Recon has assets of more than $15 billion, according to its website.

There are photographs of three highly-placed Communist Party luminaries including Chinese president Xi Jinping - when he was the regional Communist Party chief - visiting Xia's companies, but AFP failed to find Chinese news reports about these.

In any case, Xia was not identified in the pictures.

Announcing the sale back in May, Aston Villa said Recon "owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges".

The Recon website says the same, but only names one of the subsidiaries, Lotus Health Group.

It claims to be the world's second largest producer of food additive monosodium glutamate but lost $78 million last year, according to a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange, where it is listed.

"Life is a marathon and building a company is an endurance race as well," Xia said in a posting on his microblog last year.

Fang Zhouzi, a prominent Chinese sceptic who operates a platform dedicated to exposing academic fraud such as plagiarism, questioned multiple Chinese reports that quoted Xia as claiming to be the youngest ever professor at Harvard.

In response, Xia said the media had exaggerated and he was only a professor's assistant.

There is also confusion over his age. His verified Weibo microblog gives a birthday that would make him 39, but a listed unit's annual report issued in April gave his age as 41.

Read more on:    aston villa  |  english premiership  |  soccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Saturday, 20 January 2018
Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea, The American Express Community Stadium 14:30
Stoke City v Huddersfield Town, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
Arsenal v Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Everton v West Bromwich Albion, Goodison Park 17:00
Leicester City v Watford, King Power Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth, London Stadium 17:00
Burnley v Manchester United, Turf Moor 17:00
Manchester City v Newcastle United, Etihad Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 21 January 2018
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
Monday, 22 January 2018
Swansea City v Liverpool, Liberty Stadium 22:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.