Sport Soccer

Thursday 13 December 2018

Aston Villa sack director of football Steve Round as club is plunged into more turmoil

Steve Round
Steve Round

John Percy

Aston Villa have been plunged into fresh turmoil after the sacking of director of football Steve Round.

And the cash-strapped Championship club's finances are under more scrutiny after the Football League demanded clarification over proof of funding.

Round, a key ally of manager Steve Bruce, was dismissed by owner Dr Tony Xia on Wednesday morning in a shock end to his two-year tenure with the club.

It now leaves Bruce facing the task of negotiating the bulk of transfer deals on his own after the departure of chief executive Keith Wyness last month. Telegraph Sport understands Bruce has no intention of quitting the club after today's surrpise news and is determined to rebuild his squad. Xia made the decision to sack Round but has no plans to jettison Bruce.

Chief commercial officer Luke Organ and Xia's executive assistant Rongtian He are understood to be flying out to Portugal today, where Villa's squad are based for a training camp, for talks with Bruce over the club's immediate future.

Bruce is facing the sale of Jack Grealish and restricted to signing only free agents and low-cost loan signings.

Villa have also been asked by the EFL to provide evidence they have the cash to continue operating for the forthcoming Championship season, as the pressure grows on Xia.

Last month Xia secured around £5m to ensure the club was able to pay wages and their tax bill for June, but the short-term situation is a concern for the governing body.

The EFL has written to Villa for a response on whether the club can meet its financial obligations and remain competitive for the campaign, which starts in a month's time. Villa and the EFL have declined to comment.

Xia has this week rejected a £30 million offer from an American consortium for a 30 per cent share and is thought to be desperate to retain full control.

Bruce and Xia will be monitoring the future of Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore, who left Villa in August 2016, in the hope of landing a welcome cash injection.

It is understood Villa inserted a 20 per cent sell-on into the deal, so could land around £3.5m if a Premier League club triggers Traore's £18m release clause this summer.

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