Aston Villa’s disastrous pre-takeover finances laid bare

Aston Villa’s takeover has saved Steve Bruce’s players from bringing in their dinner money.

The cash crisis at the Birmingham club was so bad first-teamers were being asked to stump up for their own grub.

The £55million sale to Anglo-Egyptian billionaires has rescued the former European champions – they were within days of hitting the wall with next week’s payroll run due to tip them over the edge.

And so acute were the problems, Bruce’s players had been forced to dig into their own pockets to use the canteen at Bodymoor Heath.

The first-team returned from a pre-season camp in Portugal to be told they had to cough up for their food.

Young academy professionals had been hit with a £2.50 charge – but the seniors’ ran into three figures.

In common with most clubs, Villa have a restaurant-quality facility at their training base.

They provide nutrition before and after training and because clubs are producing highly-trained athletes the diet is usually one area that is catered for.

One insider said: “The menu is top drawer. On Thursday there was fish, chicken, pasta, sweet potatoes – the list goes on.

“We’ve always been well looked after, so no complaints. Only now we’re being told to pay for it.”

But that now looks to be a thing of the past after Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens concluded their joint bid to take charge.

And it can be revealed that outgoing owner Dr Tony Xia turned down a £90m offer from a Saudi Arabian investment group, preferring to deal with them rather than a Middle Eastern offer.

It is understood Xia will maintain a seat on the board of directors, but his influence will be diluted during the next 12 months as more of his stake is sold down.

As for Bruce, he will learn his fate on Tuesday when he is due to meet the new purchasers face-to-face.

He has already received verbal assurances he will remain in his position, but that will be clarified in the next 48 hours.

He has also been told to make contact with both Stoke and Spurs over the potential sales of James Chester and Jack Grealish.

Defender Chester was simply waiting for the green light and, had the takeover not been completed as quickly, would have been the first to be sacrificed.

However, the player himself is keen to stay put at Villa rather than move to a rival in the Championship.

As for Grealish, Bruce is obviously keen to keep hold of a player who he intends now to build a promotion push around.

The 22-year-old playmaker wanted to remain at his boyhood club and the prospect of that looks increasingly likely with new investment on board.

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