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Recon finalizes purchase of Aston Villa

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2016-07-24 09:42

New owner plans to return club to premier league, use training ability to boost Chinese football

Recon Group, a Chinese conglomerate, announced on July 18 it had acquired Aston Villa FC, with the aim now to return the club to the English Premier League.

The deal for the 142-year-old club is worth 76.5 million pounds ($101 million; 91 million euros), with the Chinese buyers assuming 24.5 million pounds in debt.

Xia Jiantong, aka Tony Xia, chairman of Recon, says he hopes the purchase of an established club with mature scouting and training programs will bring experience to Chinese football.

"Aston Villa is like a sleeping lion," he says. "We hope to wake it up through changes in management and operation."

Under the terms of the deal, if Villa returned to the Premier League within three years, the previous owner, Randy Lerner, will receive a further 30 million pounds. The club was relegated to the Championship after finishing bottom in the top tier of English football last season.

A lot of research and preparation was done before the acquisition, says Xia, who adds that it was Villa's strength in training younger players that ultimately impressed Recon.

The company is expected to buy more clubs in Europe, Australia and India, with the aim to establish a strong international platform to provide training and cooperation to Chinese football clubs, he says.

Recon is a holding company that has a controlling interest in five companies listed in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland.

Wolverhampton Wanderers has been bought by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International for 45 million pounds ($59.7 million; 54 million euros), with the club expected to confirm the deal on July 21.

China Central Television reported that Li Yanhong, CEO of internet company Baidu Inc, has made progress in the purchase of Italian club AC Milan for $437 million.

If the deal goes through, Milan will join a long list of European clubs to receive investment from China in recent years, including Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Manchester City, Sochaux FC and Slavia Prague.

 Recon finalizes purchase of Aston Villa

A young Aston Villa fan with a homemade replica of the FA Cup. Provided to China Daily

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