Steve Bruce braced for Aston Villa budget breakdown
Steve Bruce will meet Villa’s board on Monday as the cash-strapped club begin to turn attentions toward next season.
The boss is expected to be given a detailed breakdown of his budget as Villa look to move on from a tumultuous fortnight, which saw them beaten in the Championship play-off final and flung into a financial crisis.
Owner Tony Xia has managed to secure a loan to stave off the immediate threat of administration and settle an unpaid tax bill, which had seen the club threatened with a winding-up order by HMRC.
Bruce’s situation, which remained uncertain in the aftermath of the play-off final defeat to Fulham, had almost taken a back seat as the board worked to find a solution to the cash crisis.
Villa’s financial outlook remains serious, yet Bruce is reportedly confident he can still build a team capable of challenging for promotion to the Premier League.
His budget, unsurprisingly, is expected to be tight. In addition to finding the cash to meet their ongoing liabilities, which includes around £30million in transfer fees still owed to other clubs, Villa must raise £40million through player sales and wage cuts to comply with Financial Fair Play rules a year from now.
That is despite Bruce having returned a profit of around £17million on player trading during the three transfer windows he has been at the club.
Villa issued a brief statement yesterday, confirming an agreement had been reached with HMRC over the unpaid tax bill.
It is understood Xia arranged a payment of £500,000 on Wednesday, with an additional £1.2million due to be paid by the end of the week.
The club statement also sought to assure supporters ‘plans are now being in place’ to help the club move forward.
It has not been enough to quell the fears of fans. The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust had earlier called on the club to provide a ‘meaningful update’ on the situation.
A week of crisis also saw chief executive Keith Wyness suspended, following a bust-up with Xia over the best way to tackle the financial issues.
The Trust statement read: “When Keith Wyness spoke at our AGM just a few months ago he spoke of a plan being in place in the event that we were not promoted back to the Premier League.
“I am guessing that plan didn’t involve being belittled by our own ineptitude, him being put on the naughty step and us looking down the barrel of administration.
“We can assure them that we are in contact with the club and have made a number of suggestions as to how we may be able to assist in steering the ship through these troubled waters. Our efforts will continue.
“But, with this in mind, we implore AVFC to immediately give our supporters a meaningful update on the current situation.
“We appreciate that there might be huge concerns that are being worked on around the clock at the moment but we need to know where we stand. We can assure our members that as soon as we know what is happening we will share it with you.”
Villa have meanwhile confirmed they will travel to Burton Albion for a pre-season friendly on Saturday, July 21 (kick-off 3pm).
Other fixtures which have so far been announced include a double header at AFC Telford United and Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday, July 14 (both 3pm kick-offs).
Villa will also head to Walsall on Tuesday, July 17 (kick-off 7.45pm), before rounding off their pre-season programme at German Second Division outfit Dynamo Dresden (kick-off 2pm).