Aston Villa’s owners will consider a stadium rebrand in 2019 as they continue to plan for the future.
A well-placed source has told BirminghamLive that the commercial opportunities at the club are under ‘constant negotiation’ – and that selling the naming rights to the famous old ground would not be ruled out.
At this stage there are no immediate plans in place but majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have made it clear that improving Villa’s revenue streams remains a focus.
Villa Park – the club’s home since 1897 – has never had a sponsorship partner.
An emotional day at Aston Villa Football Club as Sir Doug Ellis is laid to rest – you can see the scenes here:
But earlier this year – and before the summer takeover – Villa rebranded their Bodymoor Heath training ground for the first time, signalling a change of approach.
A five-year deal was struck with Recon, the conglomerate of ex-majority owner, Tony Xia, and brought in a total of £4million, BirminghamLive understands.
It was Xia who first mentioned the possibility of renaming the stadium to include his Lotus Health Group firm back in 2016.
The Chinese businessman, who is still a part of the set-up at Villa albeit with a continually-diminishing role, was to eventually backtrack on the idea, though, after discussions with the board.
It’s understood that if Villa were to go ahead with the idea, they would keep the current name in the title.
Rivals Birmingham City followed a similar approach when they renamed their home the St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium earlier this year.
As part of a behind-the-scenes drive, Villa will also look to attract new partners next year to further increase revenue streams.
CEO Christian Purslow had incredible success in this area at his former club, Chelsea, helping bring in sponsorship deals worth well over the £1bn mark – signing or renewing contracts with Nike, Yokohama, Hublot, Delta, Carabao, Beats, Hotel Tonight and Wipro.
The worry of meeting Financial Fair Play regulations remains a genuine issue, though, despite the club insisting it is under control.
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Winning promotion this season would solve the problems although another season in the Championship will be damaging.
Villa are currently in 14th place after winning just five of their opening 16 games this season and tomorrow they take on Derby County in the start of what will be a defining period for Dean Smith’s troops.
The Rams had FFP concerns of their own last season but sold top goalscorer Matej Vydra to Burnley over the summer to help balance the books.
Villa’s administration fears in June and July were quickly eased with the takeover and they have since steadied the ship.
But after seeing the EFL make an example out of Blues, who are currently operating under stringent transfer restrictions and face the threat of a points deduction following their alleged breaches, other clubs, including Villa, are becoming more aware of the crackdown.