(Reuters) - Aston Villa will probably have to sell several of their best players, including midfielder Jack Grealish, to meet Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, manager Steve Bruce has said.
He told Sky Sports News on Monday that Villa, who missed out on a lucrative return to the Premier League when they lost in the playoff final, have no choice but to sell prized assets.
Sky reported that Villa must raise 40 million pounds ($53 million) to comply with FFP rules after last season’s failure to secure promotion from the second tier.
The club faced a winding-up order via the High Court last month until they agreed a payment schedule regarding money owed to British tax authorities.
Villa owner Tony Xia said the club was not for sale but Bruce, who has agreed to stay to help the Midlands outfit through the difficulties, knows players will likely be sold.
“We know what to expect. We don’t want to lose Grealish, (Ivory Coast forward Jonathan) Kodjia and (Wales central defender James) Chester but the inevitability is we might have to so let’s get ready for it,” Bruce said.
Villa owner and chairman Xia wrote an open letter to fans on Friday in which he said: “To be clear, to meet FFP we need to player trade. No shareholding sale of any size will contribute to meeting FFP. We must reduce costs and increase revenue.”
Former Manchester United defender Bruce, who has managed nine teams, said he had considered his own position at Villa.
“After thinking about it I thought the club is in trouble and if ever it needs me, with my experience to beg steal and borrow, then now is the time,” he said.
“Inevitably that is going to be player sales. There are going to be people that I do not want to sell - and the obvious one is Jack (Grealish) - but people will know that we have got financial problems and they’ll sit and wait, and wait, till (transfer) Deadline Day (Aug. 9) possibly.
“I hope that doesn’t happen but we’ve got to baton down the hatches and wait for it. And it’s pretty brutal stuff out there.”
($1 = 0.7547 pounds)
Reporting by Ken Ferris, editing by Ed Osmond