Aston Villa, who are facing the possibility of a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill as well as the threat of administration ahead of next season, could soon be subject to a second takeover since 2016 after it was reported that American businessman Peter B. Freund is preparing a bid.
After spending huge sums on transfers over the last two seasons, including a £60,000-per-week contract for John Terry, Villa bet everything on Premier League promotion…and lost.
With no Premier League windfall coming to inject fresh money into the club, current owner Dr. Tony Xia admitted in a statement last week that the club faces ‘severe FFP challenges’. He stated that the playoff final defeat to Fulham means Villa ‘need to change a lot of things’.
Villa chief executive Keith Wyness has been suspended as a result of the looming winding-up order from HMRC, with the club reported by The Times to owe £4.2m in outstanding taxes.
The Times also reports that Freund, whose fortune stems from his family’s plastic manufacturing company, is readying a takeover bid worth £75m.
As well as being a huge baseball fan (he owns shares in the iconic New York Yankees), Freund already has a business interest in football, with the aim of first bringing a United Soccer League (America’s second division) expansion franchise to Memphis and ultimately taking that club into Major League Soccer.
Sky Sports notes that while Xia would prefer not to give the club up, he is attempting to attract new investment and would be ‘prepared to cut his losses and sell the club for the right price’.
The Times further explains that Xia, who has been back home in China since the playoff final defeat but also named himself as Wyness’ replacement as chief executive this week, valued Villa at £100m during ‘initial negotiations’ with Freund.
In addition to paying the tax bill before a deadline this Friday, which, according to the Birmingham Mail, the club have said they are confident of being able to do, Villa must also raise £40m which will most likely have to come through players sales this summer to combat Financial Fair Play.
Daily Telegraph journalist John Percy has noted that renowned insolvency expert Trevor Birch, who previously worked at Chelsea and Leeds, is working alongside Villa. His cost cutting expertise could prove crucial in the coming weeks.
Administration would mean Villa start the 2018/19 season with a 10-point deduction.