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|Aston Villa face wind-up order |
at 10:57 6 Jun 2018
Aston Villa are facing the most important week in their 144-year history as owner Dr Tony Xia fights to keep the club out of the hands of administrators.
A huge investment in players' wages plus more than £70m in transfers in just two seasons leaves the club facing an HMRC winding-up order, with the prospect of administration a real possibility.
Officially, Sky Sports News has been told the club is not for sale, and that Dr Xia's financial problems are the result of cash flow issues in China.
However, SSN understands the owner, who has been in China since the play-off final defeat, is attempting to attract new investors to share the burden, and would be prepared to cut his losses and sell the club for the right price.
Despite the club's motto 'Prepared', few could have predicted the speed with which Dr Xia's gamble to reach the Premier League would appear to have come unstuck.
SSN understands the Midlands club have been taking insolvency advice for more than a week, with reports that insolvency expert and former Chelsea CEO Trevor Birch was advising Villa as their financial pressures continued to mount.
The question Villa fans will have is whether Dr Xia has the resolve - and the resources - to continue funding a club that is believed to be costing him around £6m a month to run.
Having suspended the club's chief executive Keith Wyness for issues unrelated to the HMRC notice, the club announced on Tuesday that Dr Xia would take over the day-to-day running of the club, as the real cost of failing to secure promotion is revealed.
Before Villa's tax problems became apparent, it was clear the club would have to undergo a cull of their highest earners to fulfil their Financial Fair Play (FFP) obligations. That would likely start with the sale of key assets, such as England Under-21 midfielder Jack Grealish.
In the last three years, the club has spent relatively huge sums on the likes of Ross McCormack (£11.9m), Jonathan Kodjia, (£11 m) and Scott Hogan (£9m).
To date, more than 17,000 Villa supporters have renewed their season tickets for the 2018/19 Championship campaign. The club's biggest fear is that they could start next season in administration and with it, a 12-point deduction.
Following the play-off final defeat to Fulham, Dr Xia told fans the club faced significant pressure to comply with FFP regulations.
He said: "I am an Aston Villa fan. But I am also a businessman. Under the current circumstances, I think the club needs to rethink not only the past two years but also the past 10 years. Villa needs to be a sustainable football club.
"We have been heavily investing for the past two seasons. However, the loss on Saturday means that we need to change a lot of things."
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