Money talks. Villa forced into player sell-off to meet FFP rules

July 10 – The brutal effect of financial fair play has been exposed by the case of Aston Villa who say they are having have to sell many of those who took the club to the verge of a lucrative return to the English top flight last season.

Manager Steve Bruce says Villa, who agonisingly missed out on promotion when they lost to Fulham in the Championship playoff final worth a potential £160 million in future revenue, now have no choice but to sell their prized assets.

Sky reported that Villa must raise £40 million to comply with FFP rules. The club faced a winding-up order via the High Court last month until they agreed a payment schedule regarding money owed to British tax authorities.

Villa owner Tony Xia insists the club is not for sale but Bruce says his top talent will likely be sold.

“We know what to expect. We don’t want to lose (Jack) Grealish, (Ivory Coast forward Jonathan) Kodjia and (Wales central defender James) Chester but the inevitability is we might have to so let’s get ready for it,” Bruce said.

Midfielder Grealish is heavily linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur and Bruce said: “He’s a special talent. Yes, you don’t want to lose him, but the inevitable thing is, we have to.”

“We have to keep the club up and running and keep it in line with Financial Fair Play.”

“We might have to take decisions which aren’t going to be easy. We will have to generate some money and inevitably that’s going to be through player sales.

Villa have suffered a torrid time off the field in recent months with chief executive Keith Wyness suspended and then subsequently leaving, followed by director of football Steve Round.

“We are a big club with a huge fan base – that will never change,” added Bruce. “We’re having a tough time at the moment but we’ve got to try and steer our way through it and ride the storm.”

Xia wrote an open letter to fans on Friday in which he said: “To be clear, to meet FFP we need to player trade. No shareholding sale of any size will contribute to meeting FFP. We must reduce costs and increase revenue.”

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