Aston Villa’s new owners begin to make changes

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce flanked by owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens

Aston Villa’s new owners are starting to make their presence felt at the club with changes in the boardroom but not in the dugout.

London-based Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris, who has been described by Forbes as one of Africa’s richest men, has teamed up with Wes Edens, the co-owner of NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, to take a 55% stake in the Championship club.

They ended fevered speculation about the future of manager Steve Bruce with a one-sentence statement that said “Aston Villa can confirm manager Steve Bruce has met majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens and will continue as manager with their full support”.

It was most notable for being the first time the Championship club had referred to the duo as owners, having previously only said they would “inject significant investment capital”.

Former owner Dr Tony Xia has moved to co-chairman, although two allies – Rongtian He and Tracy Gu – have resigned as directors of Aston Villa companies in the wake of the takeover.

Aston Villa were one win away from being promoted to the Premier League last season, but defeat in the play-off final meant the club’s financial problems became a crisis. Chief executive Keith Wyness departed acrimoniously amid talk of possible administration and while the deal has ended its immediate cash problems, challenges of financial fair play restrictions and player recruitment remain.