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Steve Round axed by Aston Villa owner Tony Xia as summer of crisis continues

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published: | Last Updated:

Villa’s summer of crisis has taken another stunning twist after owner Tony Xia took the decision to sack director of football Steve Round.

Round has left Villa

The 47-year-old was informed his services would be no longer required during a meeting with chief commercial officer Luke Organ early on Wednesday morning.

Round is the second major figure, after chief executive Keith Wyness, to depart Villa following their defeat in the Championship play-off final, a result which plunged the club into a financial crisis.

Both men were key allies of Steve Bruce, though the manager is expected to remain in charge and has no plans, for now, to quit the cash-strapped outfit.

The Express and Star understands Organ and Xia’s executive assistant Rongtian He, who was also present when Round was dismissed, flew out for talks with Bruce in Portugal on Wednesday afternoon.

Round's sacking coincided with the return of Villa's squad for pre-season. Players are themselves set to head out for a training camp in the Algarve on Thursday.

Round’s departure means Bruce will be asked to take an old-school, hands-on approach to deals during a summer transfer window likely to dominated by major outgoings, with Villa facing up to the prospect of losing star man Jack Grealish.

Appointed in September 2016, Round was tasked with reorganising the club’s recruitment and was a key figure in Bruce’s arrival at the club a month later that year.

The former Everton assistant boss oversaw three transfer windows in which the club made a net profit on transfer fees of around £18million.

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But Villa’s failure to win promotion to the Premier League and more particularly the crisis it has triggered ultimately led Xia to the conclusion his role is an expense no longer required.

Round is thought to have been already wary of his future following Wyness's departure last month. Though the timing of his exit was a surprise, it has not come as a complete shock.

An often fractious relationship with He, who acts as Xia's eyes and ears at the club, is thought to have further added to tensions behind the scenes.

Though Round is not expected to be formally replaced, there have been suggestions He is keen to take an increased role in transfer dealings.

Villa remain locked in a cash crisis due to Xia's ongoing struggles to effectively fund the club.

The owner is in dialogue with several groups over a proposed takeover but has already rejected two offers of investment.

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
Football MMPJ - @mjmarr_star

Sports journalist for the Express & Star

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