Firstly, I would like to thank you for your patience during what has been an uncertain period on and off the pitch for the club. Losing out on promotion to the Premier League was a disappointment to us all – not least you, the fans, whose support took us to the brink of promotion.
I would like to apologise for the lack of communication in recent weeks. This has been largely as a consequence of the many business decisions that have been required to be taken as the implications of losing the play-off final become a reality that we must face.
I am now in a position to provide a comprehensive update on the club’s situation in the hope that we can continue our preparation for the season ahead with renewed focus and determination.
For the avoidance of doubt, I remain a proud and committed owner of this football club and with that accept and embrace the responsibilities to the fans, players and staff.
In recent weeks there have been changes at senior management level and these changes have been made with the intention of establishing a focused, calculated approach.
Of course, given the financial realities, it would be prudent of us to be open and receptive to any potential minority strategic investment that would aid our objectives to consolidate after a tumultuous summer and ultimately achieve our ambition of returning to the Premier League. We will be very selective in any discussions to ensure that the club’s best interests remain the focal point.
Having assumed the role of acting CEO, I have been working closely with the senior management team to improve efficiency and effectiveness. A more measured approach will enable us to overcome the implications of Financial Fair Play after two years of significant investment in the football department. We need to generate sufficient revenue to ensure the smooth-running of the club without compromising the standards of this great institution.
With that comes a reality check over performance and expectation for the season ahead but also the opportunity to work smartly in the transfer market, bring through young talent and draw on the experience of our manager.
I have had numerous conversations with Steve Bruce in recent weeks, which only reinforced how fortunate we are to have someone of his experience and standing in the game. His leadership will be important for us on the field, as a club and as a community and I thank him for his loyalty.
These qualities will be essential as we begin a new season with the fresh hope and expectation it inevitably brings. While we would never want to compromise our ambitions, we must however be prepared to do so in a measured and realistic manner, hence the necessary business decisions I have outlined.
Lastly, I am aware that there are a number of stories being written about the club and to be definitive I would like it to be known that:
1. I have not put the club up for sale
2. I would consider minority investment stakes that bring strategic value to the club to help us achieve our goals but this will be considered extremely carefully
3. I have not received an offer of 51%
4. I have received an offer of 30% but we did not believe there was strategic value and we did not know the source of the money
5. We have been approached numerous times and we have turned away numerous approaches
6. FFP is a burden and we need to work within the defined parameters over the course of the next 12 months and beyond and as we have done in the previous 12 months
7. To be clear, to meet FFP we need to player trade. No shareholding sale of any size will contribute to meeting FFP. We must reduce costs and increase revenue
8. Selling any size of shareholding in the club will not aid in respect to FFP
9. Steve Bruce remains in charge with my support
10. There is significant football experience within our playing department and our football administration team who will be supported by the club admin team
11. I have made significant investments into the club and all loans provided up to 31st May have now been converted into equity as part of the club’s compliance with FFP rules
12. We are bank loan free but continue to evaluate opportunities to create sensible solutions with regards to financing as is common in most business practises
13. The EFL have shown no concern over the ‘lack of football experience within the club’
14. Work continues at pace at the Recon Training Complex as a result of the HS2 project
15. Work continues on the pitch at Villa Park and is on schedule
I would like to once again thank you for all your support.
Dr Tony Xia