Other clubs have regretted selling their stadiums, but so far it has worked wonders for Aston Villa – The Athletic

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It was a lever Aston Villa could only pull once.

Selling Villa Park would have previously sparked huge debate and concern, but offloading the stadium in May 2019 to a subsidiary owned by Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens – the billionaires who by this stage had saved the club from financial ruin – was perfectly fine. logic.

This would come with a large cash injection – £56.7million, to be precise – and due to changes to profit and sustainability rules in 2017, proceeds from the sale of fixed assets could be used in Financial Fair Play calculations, an area where Villa were close to reaching breaking point.

Even with the profitable promotion to the Premier League in 2019, the club was still making big losses. The accounts for the year to 31 May 2019 showed a loss of £69m which would have been significantly higher without the sale of the stadium, which recorded a profit of £36m (the other £20m sterling reverted to former owner Randy Lerner).

CEO Christian Purslow knew exactly how to work within the parameters without breaking the rules – and that certainly helped. Villa were able to comply thanks to a combination of factors, including the sale of the stadium. It is worth recalling again that Villa did not break any rules, with the Premier League saying they were comfortable with the deal and the valuation after a nine-month investigation, as Villa were still confident they would. Nor was there ever any intention of selling to a third party, or even changing the name.

But there was still no avoiding controversy, and for Villa – more so than many of their rivals – the importance of such a ‘smart’ sale.

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