TWELVE MONTHS ago a John Terry inspired Aston Villa attempted to smash down the door to the Premier League – but tumbled through a trapdoor instead.
Last night another on-loan Chelsea star rode to the rescue as Tammy Abraham slotted home a spot kick which could turn out to be the most crucial goal in the club’s history …. and worth a cool £200million if Villa go on to win the Play Off final at Wembley.
Reuters Tammy Abraham has set up Aston Villa for a huge shot at getting back into the big time
Villa are returning to the national stadium where Leeds or Derby will await them – one year after Fulham skipper Tom Cairney condemned them to a third successive season in the Championship.
Financial meltdown was swift as Terry was told the club could no longer afford his wages, while on-loan winger Robert Snodgrass was packed off back to West Ham.
Dr Tony Xia was forced to take his medicine and confess he and the club he had invested so recklessly was skint.
With administration looming, Steve Bruce started the fire-sale and Jack Grealish had packed his bags and was waiting to Spurs to pay for his one-way ticket to London.
Reuters The Villains will surely lose Jack Grealish if they don’t win promotion to the Premier League
Then the Cavalry arrived.
The club was bought over by the NSWE group, a company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and the American billionaire Wes Edens and Villa breathed again – for a while at least.
Last night this once mighty club stared into the abyss again but Abraham had ice in his veins and managed to hold his nerve from 12 yards.
If he hadn’t Villa were hurtling towards financial meltdown again.
Had Dean Smith’s boys failed to reach the Promised Land of the Prem for a third season the implications were horrendous.
There would have been no comfort blanket of their Premier League parachute payments, which have now run out, while strict FFP rules would have given Villa another financial kicking.
The club’s wage bill was a staggering £73.1million last season – more than £4million higher than revenues.CHANCE TO KEEP TAMMY?
Without top flight football that simply isn’t sustainable, billionaire owners or not.
If Villa do make it through the Play-Offs and return to the Prem their fans will demand Abraham is the first item on Smith’s summer shopping list – because he will go down in club folklore as a club legend and superhero.
If his bottle had crashed fellow loan stars Tyrone Mings and Axel Tuanzebe would have been packing their bags and heading back to their parent clubs along with Tammy.
Make no mistake, Jack Grealish and John McGinn would have been hawked off to the highest bidder.
Talk about a pressure kick!
Ironically, if ever there was a timely reminder, of the huge gulf between life in the Championship and the gold-paved streets of the Premier League, it was taking place just a short hop up the M6 in Wolverhampton.
VILLA TO JOIN WOLVES?
While Villa and West Brom had their working togs on and were scrapping for their lives at the Hawthorns, Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers were literally having a ball.
Wolves players, staff and the club’s top brass were looking out their top hat and tails for a glitzy end of season black-tie bash at the end of a remarkable season which had seen them finish ‘best of the rest,’ in seventh place.
The rewards are already pouring in for Nuno Espirito Santo’s team and their already filthy-rich owners Fosun.
Wolves will warm-up for their first European campaign for 39 years by taking part in the Asia Cup, alongside Premier League royalty Manchester City in China.
That’s handy because the club last night confirmed they will be opening a high-end Wolves megastore in Shanghai’s brand new Bund Financial Centre Shopping Mall.
Three smaller pop-up stores will pop-up in Nanjing (Deji Plaza), Hangzhou (Fudi Active Plaza) and Chengdu (Fudi Active Plaza).
Wolves also chose their posh nosh and awards night to announce ambitious plans to redevelop Molineux, with barrier-seating planned to satisfy fans’ wishes.
New money for Old Gold – Wolves will continue to prosper in the land of milk and honey.
Thanks to Abraham, Villa are somehow still in with a chance of joining them.
PA:Press Association This was the winning penalty scored by Tammy Abraham that has sent Aston Villa through to the play-off final