Date: 6th June 2018 at 4:09pm
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I’m really not sure whether it is even worth writing about the current Aston Villa situation, there seems too much in the know (itk) and ‘look at me, I’m really important’ stuff flying around as usual. I don’t want to add to that madness.

However, how can we not talk about it?  This is an almighty mess and a major worry.

This itk claptrap always crops up at takeover times.  They seldom know anything in my ever so humble (?) opinion.  Most people who are genuinely helping, if previous takeovers and crisis are anything to go by, aren’t all over social media lauding themselves, they don’t have the need because it isn’t about them, it’s about the club. There is also an awful lot of speculation, as one would expect, amongst fans and much of it is out of concern, some of it though… I wish some would stop and think for a second sometimes ?!

Anyway, before I begin on all this, let’s get one thing straight:

I like to remind myself of that. It’s part of our DNA.

And so onto the stuff flying around…. and I find it hard to write these things without trying to sound like one of the ‘itk’ types. I think those who have read the last 18 odd years of my guff will know I’m not particularly glib with these things and don’t tend to feel the need to chase the page impressions or big up any imagined self-importance. I just love the club and will do anything to help it.

This was me when I first heard the latest developments yesterday, you as well I’m sure!

I can’t even use my punchbags at the moment to get rid of the frustrations, I’m on for operation number 13 on Monday. I bet having kidneys stones removed will be less painful than watching our club messed up by yet another owner or staff, or both.

I got into a spot of bother with my tweet last week after Tony Xia’s ‘statement’ that cleared nothing up.

At least people can see from that, I’m not jumping on any bandwagon, I was already on it. And I wasn’t trying to be negative for no reason.


People don’t forget to pay the tax man. If you do miss a payment, it doesn’t take the HMRC long to remind you. If you ignore that, they are all over you. This isn’t a cheque lost in the post. Keith Wyness didn’t go on holiday and forget to do his internet banking! For one thing, it would be the financial director making payments and the dates of these payments would be etched on .. wherever you etch things.

You don’t just not pay your bills unless you have no money. It’s a cash flow situation and cash flow is the killer of many a good business. Trust me, this isn’t a good business.  You don’t need inside knowledge here, it’s just good old fashioned logic – alongside inside knowledge obviously!

Neil Moxley in The Mirror I think has things very close to where we are at. It echoes my information and yes, I know, that sounds now like an itk thing to say. Whatever! Money being fed to the club monthly IS NOT a healthy situation. You would expect clubs to have a good six months of cash flow in the bank, or with an investor like this, at least finance in an escrow account for the club to draw down on when needed. But no, this monthly financing dried up, hence a cashflow crisis. It really was hit or miss (shit or bust if you don’t mind industrial language) at the play-offs. If the players had turned up and won this game, (1st half criticism I guess, 2nd half they did give it their all, albeit missing the chances to score) I don’t think people would ever have realised how close we came.  However, we didn’t win and it is now dawning on everyone. It would have been a gamble that paid off.  Sadly, they seldom do.

So whose fault is it? Seriously, at the moment, in the middle of this nightmare, I’m not sure I am that bothered.  We have to get through this first.  However, the buck stops with the man at the top. It did with Randy Lerner who got slated for not attending matches but came to more than Xia by the way, just he didn’t tweet… miaow!  He did at least pump cash in, albeit wrongly and did take a massive loss (£240million ish is the figure I seem to recall). And no, I’m not defending how that era finished, I would point to the great way it started if not for the awful end!  Will Tony Xia do the same?  It is now a ticking time bomb, I don’t think we can do a quick player sale or two to cover this, because other clubs will know we are in trouble and so won’t pay £40million for a player they can force our hand on and bid £20million.  No one will look to do us favours, we’d not look to do other clubs favours.  I’m also not convinced the HMRC will be all happy-go-lightly and have a soft touch on this, we are a multi-million pound business with massive assets.  I have nothing to back up this fear over the HMRC but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were happy to make an example of a club to show that football cannot keep going like it is.

There is a lot of mudslinging towards Keith Wyness, the now-suspended CEO.  I understand why, I have had to be careful myself not to be all knee-jerk in reaction to the news, I was apoplectic the other afternoon as a few will attest with the WhatsApp messages they endured.  I don’t think they realised just how Anglo-Saxon my language can be.  But… for me, this is a problem above management level.  Your owner and Chairman have to have a grip on their business.  CEO’s, like managers and other staff, can come and go, they can leave, they can be sacked.  Owners?  It’s a different ball game.  Keith might have been taking advice for damn good reasons (knowing cashflow was running out and the crisis that was coming).  As a CEO if you know you can’t pay your bills, you have a duty of care to get the facts straight on ways to fund the shortfall AND to look into what options there would be if the cash still couldn’t be raised and yes, I do mean administration.  Now the rumours, a lot by Collymore actually on twitter, is that Keith went behind the owners back and tried to get the business sold off cheaply to ‘his chums’.

Think about it.  Ok, so you have a house.  Right?  I want your house.  I get the due diligence done, I find out it is all fine, I get it valued.  I tell you I want to buy it.  You say “it’s not for sale.”  Oh.  That’s it.  End of.  You can’t force someone to sell something they own.

Another implication is that KW was telling other potential investors that although the club might look to be worth x you will actually be able to buy it for y.  Again.  Think about it for a moment.  IF the owner wants to sell, a prospective investor will do due diligence.  Do you think that due diligence will be able to hide the fact we have no cashflow?  No.  So the x value would soon go down to y anyway.  Is it possible that the CEO has gone behind the owners back?  Sure.  I don’t know.  Is it possible the owner is trying to cover his own back and make a scapegoat?  Sure.  I don’t know.  Is it possible Xia isn’t all that?  Yup.  Sure, I don’t… you get the idea. Is it possible they are both as bad as each other?  Yup.  Or is it possible they came in with good intentions, have messed up and now just need to get things sorted, sell and move on?  Of course.

And that’s a major point.  It’s difficult to take sides without all the details, but people are doing so already.  It’s now the fat ****** CEO, it’s the **** **** owner.  (As a total aside, I do know when I did the marathon to raise funds for the Aston Villa Foundation, Keith readily made a donation, Xia totally ignored any requests, as did his right-hand man, to even re-tweet let alone contribute to their own foundation and a fan trying to champion them.  Doesn’t prove anything, just wanted to get that off my chest, or injured metatarsal more to the point!) I can hold my hand up and those who read the Vital Villa Forums will know I have major doubts on Xia.  I’ve only posted the odd thing, I’ve kept my powder dry because I really want to be wrong and really don’t want to be constantly banging on about negatives.  I hope it is clear I try my damndest to be positive about our beloved club, in fact, I try to be positive in life full stop.  But something has never added up for me.  I still hope to be wrong.  Or hope that he now sees the mess we are in, lets our beloved club go and off we go again.

I tried at the time of the dark days of Randy to see if he’d entertain setting up a fan vehicle to invest into the club or to work out a way where we could do something revolutionary in club ownership (and yes I have proof of this!).  I think it is an option he’d have explored if not for the fact Xia appeared.  Whether that is possible with the current owner, with the current finances, well, I have my doubts.  It was also being looked at towards the end of the Ellis reign.  Myself, Howard Hodgson (father of Howard Hodsgon that you’ll now from twitter and the Villa Trust) Navid Nazir et al were looking – even back then it was with heavy hearts not the delightful thought of trying it.  The money to raise then was big, the money to raise now is colossal.  I think, and it isn’t a unique thought, it’s one that a trusted contact told me, if anyone comes in for the club right now, they will be a serious player.

It’s ironic that I’ve said a good few times over the years, what we need for ‘us’ to get ‘our football’ back is for a big club to go bust.  That might wake people up to how ridiculous the industry is being run.  I DID NOT MEAN OUR CLUB!

There will be interested investors (for that, read there are). But investors won’t be interested in paying Xia all the money he’s put into Villa back, not in our current mess, they’ll want the investment to go into the club. So now we get to see how much of a Villa fan Tony Xia really is. He assured us in his statement he was if you remember? “I am an Aston Villa fan. But I am also a businessman.”

And those currently being linked?  My tweet says it all!

All I do know is the ones named so publicly, like the initial report, are seldom the ones with the serious cash or intention, they only get their names released when the deal is done, they don’t want to be beaten to it or linked to failed bids. Time will tell.

And whereas I don’t buy all that Stan is saying, I think he’s being too quick to judge one side of this and being very dramatic to grab some attention, I do agree this is the mess we find ourselves in.  He sees it as not Xia’s fault, I see it as always being the fault of the man who is meant to be the chairman of our great and storied club.

That took hours to write, re-write and agonise over.  It’s too serious a subject not to try to pause for thought.  Do I hear an amen!?

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