Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 5th June 2018
The Championship football club Aston Villa is facing the prospect of being served with a winding up petition by HMRC after failing to pay a near £4 million tax bill on time.
Having narrowly lost out to rivals Fulham in the Championship’s play off final last month and been consigned to spending another season in the second tier of English football, Villa now appears to be in the midst of a worsening financial crisis.
Expectations are that Villa will be able to settle the outstanding amounts owed to HMRC in the coming days but the club’s broader financial difficulties are likely to persist for some time yet.
On the same day that its problems with paying HMRC were revealed, it was announced that Aston Villa’s chief executive Keith Wyness was being suspended.
However, there is said not to be any direct connection between the football club’s unpaid tax bill and its suspension of Mr Wyness.
Although news of Villa potentially facing a winding up petition pursued by HMRC will come as a surprise to many, the fact of the club being in considerable financial difficulty after failing to gain promotion to the Premier League was already widely known.
The club’s owner, Dr Tony Xia, a Chinese billionaire, made clear in a statement in recent days that Villa “will face severe Financial Fair Play issues next season”.
“I am an Aston Villa fan. But I am also a businessman. Under the current circumstances, I think the club needs to rethink not only the past two years but also the past ten years,” he said.
For now the famous Birmingham-based football club faces uncertainty both on and off the pitch.
It is unclear whether the team’s manager and former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce will still be in his position at the start of the new Championship season in August.
Meanwhile, the club is grappling with overdue HMRC tax bills and potentially even the prospect of administration if its financial situation were to worsen further in the coming weeks and months.
“We have been heavily investing for the past two seasons,” Dr Xia said in his recent statements. “However, the loss on Saturday [in the Championship play off final] means that we need to change a lot of things.”
“No one wanted to see the club have to go through this, but I believe that only changes can help the club to progress towards the positive direction.”