Well, now I am going to say “I told you so”!
I doubt any self-respecting Villa fan doesn’t know, but Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have combined to take a 55% share of Aston Villa.
I haven’t yet read much about Wes Edens, but I have seen that he’s involved in running an American football club.
Randy Lerner was involved with the Chicago Browns, so that’s not saying much, but at least Edens has experience in a similar sort of setup. I’m going to take that as a plus.
But it’s Sawiris that intrigues me.
He has a stake in Adidas, which is well known.
But he has a stake in Lafarge too, which is a massive company in it’s own right.
I know, because I was involved in one of their plants a few years back.
He’s apparently worth $6.2 billion on his own, but his whole family (apparently the most famous in Egypt) is worth a stunning $36 billion.
So while he’s not a Quatari, as I guessed, he’s still minted.
But also apparently a very good businessman.
Which leads me to question how he’ll try to run the club. But that’s for the future.
The best part of this news is that there is a commitment to improve the squad.
Which immediately begs the question of how does this square, if we sell Jack Grealish?
While the media, led by the Evening Mail, has been pretty insistent that Grealish will leave, I’ve been consistent in the view that I really don’t think he will.
And that’s a stance that I retain.
The incoming co-owners (and you have to wonder where this leaves Tony Xia) have said that they realise they are only custodians of the club, on behalf of the fans.
Which is music to our ears on the face of it.
So if that’s true, would selling Grealish really get them off on the right sort of footing with the fans?
Not a chance in hell, as much as the Mail are insistent that we have no choice.
The word is that Grealish wants to stay, if it’s at all possible, for at least one more season.
And that’s exactly what I expect to see.
The Mail have gone into depth about how it’s practically impossible to keep Grealish, but I don’t believe it for one minute.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way and I’m sure that FFP has been looked into.
While I’ve always been totally against re-naming the ground, I could live with (insert one of Sawiris’ companies here) Villa Park, if it meant that we don’t sell Grealish.
There’s talk about the “going rate” for this sort of thing, but that’s “loose” at best.
A company as big as some Sawiris is involved in would be expected to spend say, £25 million on sponsorship, regardless of who the benificiary is.
And for anyone to say otherwise could easily be seen as restraint of trade.
Think of some of the stadium deals that have been done and Man city immediately spring to mind.
FFP is utter rubbish and only applies to most clubs, while the elite are allowed to take the proverbial.
We all know it.
It’s about having the clout and the balls to stand up to the EFL and threaten to challenge them if they try to punish us, a la Tony Fernandez at QPR.
Not that I am asking for us to totally flout the rules, at all.
I just think that if our new co-owners can guarantee X amount of our debts are covered, we should be able to continue to invest.
And that’s hopefully what will happen.
In the meantime, welcome to Aston Villa, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.
I genuinely hope you take our club to your hearts.