Thursday 21 September 2017

Aston Villa director Hendrik Almstadt is on holiday in Dubai, in week club revealed £27m loss

Villa director Hendrik Almstadt is on holiday in Dubai CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Villa director Hendrik Almstadt is on holiday in Dubai CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

John Percy

Hendrik Almstadt, the Aston Villa sporting director, is facing further scrutiny after it emerged he is on holiday in Dubai, during the week the club revealed losses of more than £27 million.

Almstadt has taken a break in the luxurious Middle East resort at a time when Villa are on the brink of relegation to the Championship, with many staff fearing for their jobs ahead of a mass overhaul at the crisis club.

Appointed by chief executive Tom Fox in July, Almstadt has ­endured a fractious relationship with managers Tim Sherwood and Rémi Garde and is in the firing line after an inquiry was launched by chairman Steve Hollis.

And his decision to fly to Dubai this week is understood to have stunned staff at the Premier League’s bottom club and is likely to infuriate supporters.

He is expected to return in time for Villa’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with supporters expected to again target the board after a disastrous campaign.

Villa declined to comment on Almstadt’s absence but David Michael, who runs fans’ blog “My Old Man Said”, said the timing was crass. “If he’s still at the club, it seems a very irresponsible time to be sunning yourself on a Dubai beach during a critical time of the football season.

“Especially, considering the ­recent losses highlighted in the club’s accounts and the turmoil at the club. If it’s indeed a holiday, doesn’t the end of the season come in May?”

Huge changes are expected over the summer, after a full-scale investigation was undertaken into the club’s problems on and off the field. Almstadt,

Fox, head of recruitment and scouting Paddy Riley and chief commercial officer Charles Wijeratna are all under the microscope.

Villa remain on the market after owner Randy Lerner put the club up for sale but Brian Little, a former player and manager, is set to become an adviser to the board.

Little has spoken extensively with Hollis over the past two months and the move is a clear sign that Villa want more football experience on the board.

David Bernstein, the former Manchester City chairman, will also be given a position.

Garde is expected to leave at the end of the season. He has won only two league games since his appointment in November and conceded little progress has been made.

“I am not sure it is very impressive if there is progress because we are still bottom of the league,” he said. “We had made progress in a period of time during January, since then we are struggling again to get points and win games.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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