Barnsley v Aston Villa: Boss Heckingbottom remaining solely focused on the team matters

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom
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A TUMULTUOUS week in the history of Barnsley will conclude this evening – with matters away from the pitch having drawn as much interest as affairs on it.

The Reds, who welcome Aston Villa in a game which sees the club celebrate their 130th anniversary in front of the Sky TV cameras, are the subject of fresh takeover developments with “Moneyball” baseball executive Billy Beane to reportedly join a consortium including Chinese businessman Chien Lee and American investor Paul Conway to acquire the club.

According to reports, the consortium will pay £20m for a 98.5 percent stake in the club from current owner Patrick Cryne, who is terminally ill and revealed to fans he was “living on borrowed time” in a poignant message to supporters earlier this week.

Lee, who is majority shareholder at French top tier club Nice, would become the majority shareholder if the deals goes through, with talks at an advanced stage and a deal could be completed by the end of this month.

Former American baseball player and Oakland Athletics majority shareholder Beane – portrayed by US actor Brad Pitt in the hit movie “Moneyball” – is set to take a 10 percent stake in the Reds.

On the pitch, head coach Paul Heckingbottom – who saw his side book a Carabao Cup third-round date against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night – is steadfastly retaining his focus ahead of tonight’s nostalgic date with Villa, which sees Conor Hourihane and James Bree make their first return to the club after moving in January.

They are too big a club and too good in terms of a manager, staff and players to stay down at the bottom end.

Paul heckingbottom on rivals Aston Villa

And neither is he reading too much into Villa’s early-season toils.

Heckingbottom said: “They are too big a club and too good in terms of a manager, staff and players to stay down at the bottom end. I am convinced they will be up there at the end of the season.

“But when things are not going in a club’s way, you have to try and capitalise on that. It does not make them any less dangerous.”