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New Aston Villa owner aims to make the club the 'most famous football team in China'

By Matthew Campelli    19 May 2016
Aston Villa fans regularly protested during the final months of Randy Lerner's ownership / Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Aston Villa has been purchased by Chinese businessman Dr Tony Jiantong Xia, who has set the ambitious target of making the team the “most famous” football brand in China.

Xia’s Recon Group – a privately-owned holding company with 35,000 employees – has acquired 100 per cent of the Birmingham-based club from American billionaire Randy Lerner.

In a statement made by Aston Villa announcing the deal, the club revealed that Xia had “become a fan of Aston Villa many years ago”, and would make the club the “cornerstone” of Recon’s sport, leisure and tourism division.

“Dr Xia’s immediate objective is 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,” said the statement. “He plans to make Aston Villa the most famous football club in China with a huge fan base.”

The move marks the end of Lerner’s 10-year association with the club. After hiring current Ireland coach Martin O’Neill as one of his first acts as owner in 2006, the club embarked on a period of reasonable success, challenging for the Champions League places and registering back-to-back fifth place finishes in the Premier League.

However, on the pitch performances have dipped significantly in the past five years, culminating in Aston Villa’s relegation to the Championship this season. Lerner put the club up for sale in 2014 and the club’s stark decline has resulted in a series of fan protests throughout the 2015/16 season.

Aston Villa  Premier League  football  China  Recon Group 
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