Villa Is Sold To A Chinese Businessman

18 May 2016, 18:52 | Updated: 18 May 2016, 21:13

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Chinese businessman Tony Xia has bought Aston Villa.

The relegated top-flight club says a new manager will be appointed shortly now too.  

Xia's takeover is subject to approval by the Premier League and Football League.

The current owner America Randy Lerner has been wanting to sell the club since 2014 and the slow speed of the process has frustrated fans.

In a statement, the club says the new owner's aim is to bring European football back to Villa Park - and make them the most "famous club" in China.

Here is the full statement from Villa:

Aston Villa Football Club is pleased to announce that an agreement has been signed today for the sale of 100% ownership by Randy Lerner to Recon Group owned by Dr Tony Jiantong Xia subject to the approval of the Premier League and the Football League. Once those approvals have been granted and the new board members approved under the fit & proper rules of both leagues, Dr Xia will become Chairman of Aston Villa. The Club will announce the appointment of a new manager shortly.

Randy Lerner has sought the right new owner for Aston Villa who would take great care of the Club and restore its fortunes. He believes that Tony Xia is an excellent choice.

Recon Group is Dr Xia's privately owned holding company that owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges and many other private companies employing 35,000 people in 75 countries.

Dr Xia played football as a striker until he finished at college and football has remained his passion. Dr Xia decided to buy an iconic football Club in England as the cornerstone of his Sports, Leisure and Tourism Division. He became a fan of Aston Villa many years ago and is delighted at the opportunity to become the new owner.

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. He plans to make Aston Villa the most famous football Club in China with a huge fan base.

Lerner, who first signalled his intention to sell the club in 2014, penned a long and bizarre open letter to supporters on the club's website once the sale was confirmed, in which he likened their relegation campaign to "Bannockburn".

He wrote: "It was my hope that ownership and custodianship of the club would have been transferred some years ago when I knew that personal and professional matters made it impossible for me to contribute the time I did in my first five years at the club.

"Still, fates are fickle in football so that we could claw back to safety last season, end up at Wembley at a Cup final sitting amongst old friends, and then spend the 2015/16 campaign at Bannockburn!

"Being conscious of the popular and dark pastime of wondering aloud how much was spent or lost, I should like to think that I left behind value which will hopefully ensure and benefit this beloved old club."