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'We'll be the top club in Europe in five years!' - Villa owner in bizarre fan Q&A

Aston Villa can become the top club in Europe with the biggest fan base in the world within the next five years, according to chairman Tony Xia.

The Chinese businessman, who bought the club from Randy Lerner in June, made the ambitious promise during a Q&A session with fans via the Villa Twitter account.

When asked where he saw Villa - who were relegated from the Premier League in May - in five years' time, he responded: "The top club in Europe with the highest number of fans all over the world" - in just one of a handful of peculiar statements.

Having been asked if he would consider introducing a 'safe standing' zone at Villa Park, similar to a scheme being piloted by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, he seemed to forget that his side were no longer in the top flight.

"The Premier League doesn't allow this currently. We're analysing the situation very closely," was his response.

Xia also said that his biggest frustration was being unable to fix a number of Villa's core problems "in one day", described promotion from the Championship as their "first and only priority" and chose the "loyalty of the fans" as the aspect of the club that has impressed him the most.

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Villa were relegated from the Premier League for the first time last season after winning just three of their 38 matches, while their Championship campaign began with a 1-0 defeat away to Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.

Xia completed his purchase of the club for a reported £76million in June and vowed to restore them as one of England's major forces, entrusting former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo as the man to guide them back to the top flight.