Cash-strapped Aston Villa secures major investments; ownership structure to change

Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris

English second-tier football club Aston Villa has announced that it has secured a “significant investment” capital from NSWE, a company jointly owned and controlled by billionaires businessman Nassef Sawiris’ group NNS and businessman Wes Edens. The actual amount has not been disclosed.

The move is set to see a change in the ownership structure of the club and at the same time help the cash-strapped club with a fresh influx of investments. The club’s owner Tony Jiantong Xia, who agreed on the new co-ownership model, will become Co-Chairman while also continuing to remain on the board.

Tony Xia-owned Recon Group had bought the club for a reported £60 million from American businessman Randy Lerner on 18 May 2016. The club since then was controlled and managed under Recon Sports Limited.

Aston Villa, in its official statement, has said that its management remains focused on strengthening the squad and are fully aligned with the new investors who are supportive of their ambitions. The deal has been approved by English Football League (EFL), the organisers of The Championship.

The statement further added: “Tony Xia and the Club are energised and excited about their interactions with Nassef and Wes and their teams and are confident that as strategic partners they bring exceptional business, sport and leisure expertise that will enhance the Club’s future prospects. The parties look forward to working in partnership to drive Aston Villa forward to success.”

Tony Xia said, “I am extremely pleased to have formed a strategic partnership with Nassef and Wes. We have a common goal of delivering future success for Aston Villa and I look forward to working together to achieve this aim.

“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.

“The future is exciting on a number of fronts and I look forward to exploring further business collaborations.”

Nassef Sawiris and Wes 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.”

“We look forward to working with Dr Tony to undertake a thorough assessment and evaluation of the Club in the coming weeks and our priority is to strengthen the squads and structures ahead of the upcoming season and beyond.”

According to Forbes, the net worth of Sawiris is $6.7 billion. His co-investor, Edens co-owns National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise the Milwaukee Bucks.

Since Aston Villa lost the Championship playoff final against Fulham in May, Xia has been seeking investment. The club missed a £4 million payment to HMRC and has relied on its owner to cover financial shortfalls, which reached a reported £40 million. In June the club also suspended chief executive Keith Wyness, although that was apparently unrelated to the missing tax payments.