Steve Hollis: Tony Xia takeover will prove "transformational" for Aston Villa
Chairman Steve Hollis believes Tony Xia's takeover will prove "transformational" for both Villa and the city of Birmingham.
Hollis helped broker the deal for Xia to buy the claret and blues from Randy Lerner and is confident the new owner will make a success of running the club.
Supporters in the second city have first hand knowledge of Far East-backed takeovers quickly turning sour, with Villa's rivals Birmingham City having floundered under the stewardship of Carson Yeung.
But Hollis believes Xia's achievements in China should allay any fears and has tipped the 39-year-old to have a big impact both at Villa Park and the wider region.
He said: "Tony is not a gentleman who goes around making brash promises. This is a gentleman who has a proven track record of delivering. This is the single biggest football investment outside of China. The Chinese do not have a habit of doing things and coming second."
Yeung's reign at Blues ended with him in jail after being convicted of money laundering and the club in financial disarray.
Hollis believes Xia's arrival should be cause for excitement and reckons the new owner is keen to use football's growing popularity in China to fuel success at Villa.
"If they (the Chinese) commit their name to something and their money they want to make sure it is successful," he said.
"I'd look at what's going on in China - it is no secret President Xi wants to win the World Cup by 2050. They are implementing strategies – 100 million six and seven year olds in China part of their curriculum is kicking a ball every day. Tony Xia wants Aston Villa to be the best supported club in China.
"You start putting the bits together and it all looks exciting. I genuinely think it will be transformational for Aston Villa and the city of Birmingham."
Hollis revealed how talks on selling the club, which had been publicly on the market for the past two years, had intensified over the past two months, with an initial group of six bidders whittled down to two before Xia was chosen as the preferred candidate.
Xia and his group of advisors, which includes former Reading executive Chris Samuelson and ex-Everton chief executive Keith Wyness, attended Villa's 0-0 draw with Newcastle on May 7, having their photographs taken in a dressing room at Bodymoor Heath the day before the game. The photograph surfaced on social media on Wednesday, just hours after the takeover was formally announced.
Born in Quzhou, a mid-sized city 400km west of Shanghai, Xia went to university in Beijing at the age of just 14, later going on to study in the US at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In an interview yesterday, Villa's new owner claimed he made his fortune working on infrastructure projects before taking over the Recon Group.
Hollis said: "When you look at what Tony has achieved in his business career he has basically overseen the development of 60 new cities from scratch in China. Moved 400million people – it's just staggering the scale of the numbers and what he has done."
Hollis, who replaced Lerner as the club's chairman in January, will himself be superseded by Xia when the takeover is complete and expects to leave the club.
He added: "I think Tony has a massive opportunity. With the plans he has got to have this club back in the Premier League, around Europe. Manchester has two football clubs. Manchester the city, not Greater Manchester, is a third the size of Birmingham.
"You look at the opportunities there, you look at the redevelopment scale, there are 30 acres of real estate around Villa Park. The opportunity to regenerate something - that is special."
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.