Accounts confirm near £100m Villa loss as £87m more capital funding is pumped in

By David Owen

April 23 – Aston Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens appear to have pumped a further £87 million into the reviving, but still heavily loss-making, Birmingham-based Premier League club in recent months.

Newly-published accounts for the year to end-May 2020 for the corporate entity NSWE UK Limited disclose that the company “remains reliant upon shareholder funding and the group has received £87 million of capital funding subsequent to the financial year end”.

The accounts also detail a series of share issues and similar during 2019-20 for a total of £126.4 million. Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire, and Edens, a US-born private equity investor who also co-owns the Milwaukee Bucks basketball outfit, assumed full control of Villa in summer 2019. A prior statement regarding its 2019-20 financial results published on the club’s website had served notice that the latest “operating loss and all capital investment has been funded by shareholder equity”, adding: “Aston Villa remains debt free”.

The operating loss swelled to £100.3 million from £68.3 million, with the pre-tax loss weighing in at £99.5 million.

Turnover of £112.6 million was generated chiefly by £77.7 million of broadcasting income, even though commercial and sponsorship revenue also rose. A £6.9 million provision towards broadcaster rebates was included.

As indicated by the consolidated statement of cash flows, Villa looks to have run up a more than £100 million cash deficit on player transfers during 2019-20, with spending on “intangible assets” totalling £118.1 million against proceeds of just £10.1 million.

Staff costs rose relatively little for a promoted club, from £95 million to £108.8 million, although directors’ remuneration almost tripled to £1.54 million. This was all paid to the highest-paid director. Since the other two directors are Sawiris and Edens themselves, there seems a good chance that this is chief executive Christian Purslow.

A relatively bright, if covid-impacted, 2020-21 season – including a famous 7-2 win over champions, and Purslow’s former employers, Liverpool – may well have seen the valuation of Villa players such as Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins escalate, notwithstanding what is expected to be a relatively subdued summer market. It would be less than surprising in light of the financial situation detailed in these new accounts if the club decided to sanction at least one big-money departure.

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