For those of us with a Financial Fair Play predilection, it’s been an interesting couple of years for Aston Villa.
With wild and wide ranging reports in the press based purely on supposition and assumption, it’s fair to say there was a belief amongst the fanbase that we had probably breached FFP, but the question was simply how much and how close to rectifying it did we get in 2018/19 following the arrival of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.
With so many high wage earners leaving last summer, and a heavy loan aspect to captures this year, few believed the ‘financial hole’ claims in the media and hoped that had we breached, it would be minimal and we’d have plenty to argue in mitigation – but Chief Executive Officer Christian Purslow had always maintained a confidence that we’d be fine, even if few details were understandably given.
Things became tastier upon Birmingham City’s punishment and more interesting when news of Derby County’s Stadium game broke and we’ve all seen the petulant wibbling of Steve Gibson during the fallout.
The Stadium switch is perfectly within the rules and it had looked like Villa were preparing to use it as the proverbial silver bullet given the changes we saw recently at Companies House and it would naturally get us out of any FFP hole we might be in historically and significantly improve our financial outlook in the process, even if we didn’t necessarily need that boost moving forward.
Having gained promotion and a points deduction not actually being on the table based on the EFL’s FFP Agreement with the Premier League, we could just stick two fingers up and ‘pay the fine’ but we seem to have some class back, so if we do (as expected) play the Stadium Shenanigan game, it just nicely and lawfully draws a line under our previous ‘promotion or bust’ approach under Dr Tony Xia and we leave the EFL without a bad taste in anyone’s mouth (Gibson aside).
At the recent Fans Consultation Group meeting the issue was brought up, and whilst Purslow, nor the club, didn’t necessarily give anything away given his choice of words, for those who believe Companies House will finally catch up and confirm our Stadium switch, I think he says as much myself.
1) Clarification on FFP position since promotion
The press has run stories regarding the club’s FFP position, inferring that despite promotion, outstanding issues remain with possible points deduction. Obviously in the eyes of most Villa supporters, promotion was the prime remedy for the FFP situation. Can you please outline the situation as it stands and address these press stories (or scaremongering).
Mr Purslow informed the meeting the EFL Finance Department has confirmed that, subject to the final audit of our accounts, Aston Villa’s 2018-19 accounts are compliant with the EFL’s Profitability and Sustainability Regulations.
2) Derby County revealed recently they sold Pride Park to the club’s owner Mel Morris for £80 million last year to have it leased back. The press and other CEO’s have suggested Villa had plans to do the same, especially if they failed to win promotion. Is the fact that there is a subsidiary company called ‘NSWE Stadium Ltd’ linked to this in any way?
Aston Villa’s assets – the football club, stadium, training ground, Academy, retail store etc. are commonly owned by companies controlled by Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens. The Club and our owners have no intention whatsoever of selling the stadium to a third party.
The takeaway from that is ‘the final audit’ will reflect that we have not sold Villa Park to a ‘third party’ but have sold it to a linked trusted party, the guess being ‘NSWE Stadium Ltd’.
Not quite ‘pay the fine’ but close enough for me.
The full minutes from the meeting are linked above and pleasingly Acorns are back on the agenda as well.