Tony Xia is preparing for either outcome come the end of the season it seems, with news that Aston Villa have changed the name of training ground Bodymoor Heath to ‘The Recon Training Complex’.
The five-year partnership which will see Xia’s own company take the name of the training ground, as well as benefiting from other marketing rights including media backdrop branding and LED advertising at Villa Park, as well as digital advertising, access to players, VIP experiences and match day hospitality.
That’s far more than just naming rights, and wouldn’t have come cheaply for anyone other than Xia, who already owned the training ground. However, it allows Xia to pump a large amount of money into the club through his holding group RECON – which he has already started through back-of-shirt sponsors.
RECON is a holding group, meaning that they own shares of other companies, whether that means they are majority shareholders or just own stocks, to form a major corporate group. In other words, RECON is the parent organisation of various subsidiary companies, in various industries.
In basic terms, it means that Xia has a lot of money holed up in various companies, or at RECON do. This allows him to invest in Aston Villa, if needs be, through sponsorship.
So whilst RECON now has the naming rights for Bodymoor Heath, it could be very likely that we will see the likes of the Lotus Health Group and more sponsoring things in and around Aston Villa, as a way for Villa to be able to spend money next year if they remain in the Championship.
If Villa get promoted, then Xia’s holding group RECON has the better end of the deal in theory, as the restrictions of Financial Fair Play will not be as harsh.
If Villa remain in the Sky Bet Championship, this model, used by the likes of Manchester City – could be the way that Villa are able to manoeuvre more freely in the Transfer Market.
That’s not saying that we may not lose fringe players such as Henri Lansbury, but it will give whoever is in charge a little more freedom.
At the moment, much is just speculation – and will continue to be so, as it’s unlikely that we will find out how much money the renaming rights and marketing deal would have ‘cost’ RECON.
But it’s a sign that Tony Xia is starting to box clever, and is certainly prepared for either of the outcomes at the end of the season.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy) // Follow us on Twitter @claretandview