Express & Star

Chief executive Christian Purslow: Aston Villa do not need to get promoted this season

Chief executive Christian Purslow insists Aston Villa do not need to get promoted this season to balance the books.


Purslow, who claimed Villa ‘dominate the Midlands’, has allayed fears the club are financially reliant on success.

Although he says the long-term aim of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens is to restore Villa to the ‘upper reaches’ of the Premier League, their plan does not require promotion this season.

“It’s not critical at all,” Purslow told BBC Radio 5. “We’re not expecting or requiring to be promoted quickly.

“We’re trying to do things the right way, in terms of the people we bring in to run the club, the way we play football and my job is to make sure we manage the club sensibly and sustainably.”

But Purslow insisted Villa’s new owners, who convinced him to join as chief executive, are ambitious.

“They are profoundly ambitious to get Aston Villa back to its more natural level in English sport,” he said. “It’s a wonderful club sitting in a hugely important region in this country.

“Unlike London or even Liverpool where two clubs share that city, Aston Villa dominates institutionally, the Midlands.

“We’ve had the fourth largest crowd in Great Britain on four separate weekends this season.

“Actually, I consider it my duty to do everything we can to get the club to the upper reaches of the Premier League in the first instance.

“In contention, at the level just below the top six who, for now, purely for financial reasons, with depressing predictability, will be the top six for the foreseeable future.”

But Purslow has warned Villa fans the rebuild will take time.

“The club was at its lowest ebb,” he added. “On the day after last season’s play-off final a winding up order was served on the club and the club was unable to meet a payment to the tax authorities for under £5million.

“Sadly that precipitated the moment when Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris were able to acquire the club by introducing tens of millions of pounds directly into the club clearing all its liabilities and effectively creating a clean slate on which to try and build a recovery.”

And the 55-year-old claimed the owners’ motives for buying Villa were altruistic, rather than economic.

“For very wealthy businessman it is quite normal later in life to redeploy some of that wealth that gives great pleasure and the good owners are ones that want that pleasure to be shared among fans,” he said. “If you help a club improve its fortunes you improve the lives of many people.

“Those in it for short term profit are a scourge on the game, those in it without adequate resources, who borrow money and take risk, they are also the scourge of the game.

“Having been at Liverpool and Chelsea I’m entitled to say I definitely know what good owners look like.”