Steve Bruce battling on as Aston Villa cash crisis laid bare
Steve Bruce has been left facing a nightmare final month of the transfer window after learning the true extent of Villa’s financial woes.
The bleak outlook was explained to the boss during crunch talks in Portugal on Wednesday night with club’s chief commercial officer, Luke Organ, and Rongtian He, owner Tony Xia’s executive assistant.
Star man Jack Grealish is almost certain to depart, with Tottenham now thought to be leading the chase for the 22-year-old, for whom Villa hope to land a fee of around £25million.
But the acute nature of Xia’s cash crisis means Bruce will not be able to invest any cash received, while he has almost no room to manoeuvre in terms of incomings.
The 57-year-old, who will be required to take a more hands-on approach in the transfer market following this week’s exit of Steve Round, remains determined to battle on regardless. Neither is there any suggestion his own position is under threat.
However, the Express & Star understands the playing budget projection is now worse than the one first relayed to Round - then the club’s director of football - early last month.
Wednesday night’s meeting was the first face-to-face contact between Bruce and any senior figure at the club since Villa’s defeat in the Championship play-off final on May 26.
That result has been followed by nearly six weeks of crisis, with the club narrowly avoiding a winding-up order after missing a tax payment.
Chief executive Keith Wyness has also left and is now suing Villa in a £6million claim for constructive dismissal.
Round was sacked on Wednesday after Xia deemed his role to be no longer viable.
It has since emerged the 47-year-old held talks last month with an American group interested in buying the club.
But the approach was rejected out of hand by Xia, who remains reluctant to let go of the club despite having struggled to effectively fund it since last August.