Chinese businessman agrees to buy struggling Aston Villa

first_imgChinese businessman Xia Jiantong has agreed to buy struggling former English champions Aston Villa, the latest in a series of investments as President Xi Jinping aims to make China a global powerhouse in the sport.Xia, who will be the first mainland Chinese to fully own an English team, told Reuters his company, Recon Group, could pay more than 100 million pounds ($146 million) for the club, though he also said he would not be “burning money” to turn it around.VILLA ON THE DECLINEVilla have been in decline since American Randy Lerner, who once owned the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, bought the club for $125 million in 2006. They were relegated from the Premier League this season after winning just three matches.Lerner reportedly pumped $300 million into the club but took a back seat in recent seasons as the club finished 16th, 15th, 15th and 17th in the Premier League before this season reached a new low as they finished rock bottom.NEW HOPE FOR VILLA Under the leadership of Xi, an avid soccer fan, China has set itself the goal of one day winning the World Cup, and has ploughed huge amounts of investment into grassroots academies, TV rights and transfer deals for overseas players.The acquisition of one of England’s most historic clubs by a Chinese businessman follows China’s biggest overseas investment in soccer last December, when a consortium led by state-backed China Media Capital took a $400 million stake in the ownership of Manchester City.The Villa deal, however, with 100 percent ownership, is not just an investment.advertisement”The Chinese ownership now get to decide how to run the club,” said Mark Dreyer, Beijing-based founder of sports information website China Sports Insider.Crosstown arch-rivals Birmingham City are also run from Asia, following the 2009 takeover by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung.last_img

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