By Matt Farr
Aston Villa chief executive Keith Wyness has admitted that they lured their January recruits to the club with great difficulty.
Villa’s January transfer business saw the Championship outfit welcome as many as eight new arrivals to the club, but Wyness admitted it was not always straightforward.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, the Villa Park senior man revealed that negotiations with Nottingham Forest and Barnsley for Henri Lansbury, Conor Hourihane and James Bree, proved particularly challenging.
Aston Villa made their first formal approach for Lansbury on January 3, but due to the attempted take-over at Nottingham Forest, the deal could not be completed until January 20.
Wyness appeared to criticise Nottingham Forest owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, claiming that it was particularly difficult to make contact with him, given he was caught up in the takeover saga at the City Ground for the majority of the month.
His honest admission is likely to sit well with Aston Villa supporters, who may still have been looking for answers as to why it took so long to complete the deals.
He said: “They were all very tricky this January actually, there was no straightforward deal.
“Forest was very hard for Lansbury. There was a bit of absentee ownership from Fawaz at the time. He seemed to be unavailable to talk to us.
“Barnsley was tough because the chairman was particularly ill and the chief executive left so we were left with having a vacuum of power there. They appointed a law firm to handle the deal which was unusual.”
The deals for Barnsley duo Hourihane and Bree were eventually announced just days after Lansbury, but Aston Villa were once again on the wrong end of another protracted transfer saga.
Steve Bruce made his first offer for Hourihane, 26, on January 13; while the first approach for Bree was made almost a week earlier.
But once again, Aston Villa could not confirm either deal until the final week of January.
Bruce’s signings have had a fairly mixed impact since the transfer window slammed shut, with the club having only recently overturned a run of five back-to-back defeats to end their decline down the Championship table.
They are now 15th with 12 games remaining, thanks to wins over Derby and Bristol City.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, Bristol City manager Lee Johnson has trolled Aston Villa, claiming they overpaid to sign this player.