Aston Villa confirmed on Tuesday that Chinese businessman Xia Jiantong had bought the English football club which hopes a new owner and fresh cash will secure a return to the Premier League.
The Birmingham side becomes the first English football club to be owned by someone from mainland China. Xia’s Recon Group bought it from American Randy Lerner for a reported 76 million pounds ($107 million).
Villa have been on a downward spiral since Lerner took over in 2006, finishing 16th, 15th, 15th and 17th in the Premier League before being relegated to the second-tier Championship last season.
The sale has been approved by the Football League and a new board will be appointed this week, Villa said on its website.(www.avfc.co.uk)
The club earlier said Xia’s objective was “to return Aston Villa to the Premier League and then to have the club finish in the top six, bringing European football back to Villa Park”.
As part of that drive, Villa drafted in Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo as their new manager this month.
Xia earlier told Reuters in an interview that some 30-40 million pounds would be made available for players in the next season. ($1 = 0.7075 pounds)