Aston Villa will have to find £75m to meet their financial commitments during the next year.
That is the size of the black hole facing the club as owner Dr Tony Xia battles to keep his club afloat.
The Chinese businessman is trying to secure additional funding to meet the huge cost that failure to reach the Premier League has brought down on the Birmingham club.
But the on-going cost of a string of massive contracts, along with outstanding transfer money owed and a drop in the parachute money has left them on the brink.
Xia issued a statement late on Friday night, saying the club was not up for sale, despite interest from several parties.
But unless he can come up with a plan – and soon – the only realistic course of action he can take is a huge fire-sale of players.
Boss Steve Bruce has been informed of the situation. Two members of Villa’s hierarchy flew out to Portugal in midweek to keep him up to speed.
Top of his list of assets is home-grown talent Jack Grealish. The Geordie is also likely to receive interest in defender James Chester, and forwards Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah.
Director of football Steve Round had aroused interest in England Under-21 international Grealish.
He had been in discussion with Liverpool about the playmaker and was confident of securing a better deal than the one on offer from Spurs.
(Image: Harry Trump)
(Image: Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
Round was working towards an overall package of £25m – but the chances of that being resurrected are slim after he was sacked this week.
That leaves the north London club as the only available option and chairman Daniel Levy has little intention of raising his offer above £10m – a fee that Villa want doubled.
As revealed elsewhere today, Leicester did have an interest in Grealish. But they have spent almost £25m on Norwich City’s James Maddison and are protecting themselves against Riyad Mahrez’s imminent exit by maintaining an interest in Patrick Roberts from Premier League champions Manchester City for £10m.
That leaves Bruce operating in a difficult buyer’s market as the Villa Park power-brokers grapple with an enormous task.
And Xia’s attempts to secure extra investment will come at a huge cost.
(Image: Neville Williams)
He admitted that the club is being run without an overdraft facility in his address but will face punitive interest rates if he has to go to the markets and secure extra finance.
Several interested parties have registered an interest with the Chinese businessman but there is as yet no clear indication that he is willing to sell.
One, believed to be from an American investor, has advanced a selling price of £1 – with the guarantee that the current commitments of £75m will all be covered.
That is not unusual. Two years ago, Xia himself had £17m of costs incurred by previous Villa owner Randy Lerner to make good in addition to the £57m purchase price.