With plenty of speculation that Aston Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens were going to follow in the footsteps of Derby County and use the Stadium silver bullet approach to solving any lingering Financial Fair Play concerns, today we had the answer.
A few weeks back Companies House caught up with themselves and we knew that moves were afoot with major changes to the clubs’ structure and the rebrand for one arm of the club to NSWE Stadium Limited.
It seems pretty obvious the route we were going to take in terms of a sale of Villa Park and then a leaseback deal and irrespective of gaining promotion back to the Premier League, we’ve still made this particular move to draw a significant line on our more free-spending past.
As per a new update from the Land Registry via the Birmingham Mail it’s now been confirmed that Villa Park has been sold to NSWE Stadium Ltd for a princely sum of £56.7million.
Quite a specific fee and given Mel Morris’ similar trick earlier in the season saw Pride Park sold for £80million, I can only assume the fee here for us is a price that solves FFP historically, gives us a nice bounce up for the year ahead as we return to Premier League FFP, yet shows clearly that within the rules, we’ve also more than avoided inflating the fee to keep eyes off us there when it comes to the stipulations about linked transactions, fair market values and operating both with the rules as written, but also the spirit of said rules.
With the paperwork for the structure dating back to May 16, the stadium switch itself went through May 21, so there are also absolutely no questions about where this deal falls when it comes to accounting periods with some debate about whether or not we’d have made the Stadium switch in time to cover any FFP losses from last season – and the calculation period.
NSWE Stadium Ltd is controlled directly by our ownership duo so exists outside of the control of Aston Villa Limited or other various arms we have and it doesn’t come as a surprise as said, as the minutes from the recent Fan Consultation Group had CEO Christian Purslow again talking of his confidence that we had no FFP issues, subject to our final accounts being audited and that the Stadium wouldn’t be sold to a third party owner.
Some fans will probably be naturally concerned at this and no doubt there will be plenty of questions, but ultimately for me, our owners now own the stadium is a slightly different way than they did two months ago.
In other off-pitch news, the club are looking towards a superstore/museum/possible hotel and have already submitted initial plans to Birmingham City Council (June) to demolish the ticket office and Villa Village store.
The Birmingham Mail carry the full plans and quotes but it seems that we would like to begin work on July 22 and have the demolition phase finished by August 30, so it’s certainly full speed ahead and it obviously raises questions about the future of the North Stand as well.