Aston Villa co-owner Wesley Edens is held in high regard by fans.
Without the money he and Nassef Sawiris provided in the club’s time of need, Aston Villa could have ceased to exist due to their financial issues at the time.
The claret and blue faithful are not the only fanbase that would sing Eden’s praise. He is also the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and they have experienced a similar upturn in fortunes since his arrival. This is not by coincidence.
Edens’ and his business partner Marc Lasry purchased the franchise in 2013 for around $550 million. Instantly they sparked an emotional reaction with fans by promising to keep the team in Wisconsin and to build a new arena.
These levels of ambition coincide with his vision for Villa, as he stated they were aiming to bring “sustainable success to the club”.
When Edens inherited this team, the Bucks had just completed the 2013/14 NBA season. They had finished with a record of 15 wins and 67 losses, the worst record in the league.
Instantly, in the season that proceeded his purchase, they improved to 41-41. It has only been upwards since then.
Although the improvement wasn’t instant for Villa once Edens had arrived, the rise of the club since 2018 has been astronomical. From playoff success to now challenging for European qualification, Edens has contributed massively to the revival of both of these teams.
The Bucks and Villa have both shared glory in their rich histories. The lone Championship title the Bucks won was in 1971. This squad included the leading points scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the revolutionary guard Oscar Robertson, two players that have massively shaped how the modern game is played.
Similar to Villa, however, the Bucks have struggled to hold onto great players. Kareem was drafted by them in 1969 and, soon after helping them win their first Championship, requested a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975.
Villa fans are all too familiar with this scenario, with the selling of the likes of Ashley Young, James Milner, Christian Benteke, and Fabian Delph all stinging the hearts of supporters in recent years.
Historically, some but not all players have viewed these two clubs as a stepping stone in their careers. Wes Edens has changed the culture surrounding both Aston Villa and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo, drafted by them in 2013 and winner of back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in the league (2018-19/2019-20), has recently committed his long-term future to the Bucks after signing a five-year $228 million contract extension.
After signing the deal, Giannis stated; ‘This is my city, this is my home’. This is similar to what Jack Grealish said after penning his new five-year deal last September; ‘My city. My Club. My home. UTV’.
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These words resonate with both sets of fans and they have Edens to thank for this. His ability to create and provide an exciting project, which these high-calibre players are willing to buy into cannot be overlooked.
This draws another comparison between the two clubs: their reliability on their star player and how they are building around them.
Giannis’ rise has been incredible. He has gone from averaging six points in his first year to now averaging 29 points in the current season. He has been a large part of the success under Edens and securing his future was vital.
In the previous years, however, they fell short in the playoffs, losing in the Eastern Conference finals in 2018-19 and the semi-finals in 2019-20. Just like the Aston Villa team of 2019-20, it was clear they didn’t have the quality surrounding their star player to make any meaningful push towards a championship.
In November 2020, though, the Bucks made a step in the direction of changing this. They traded for former All-star and NBA All-Defensive first team of the year point guard, Jrue Holiday.
Not only did they trade for him, they have signed him to a four-year $134 million contract extension. As well as securing the future of their other All-star in Khris Middleton on a five-year $178 million contract.
It is clear the Bucks are building a project here, securing the futures of these three stars in this league is massive for their hopes of achieving a title.
It draws similarities to the project at Aston Villa, not only investing in quality such as Ollie Watkins, but also securing the future of vital star players such as Ezri Konsa and John McGinn.
Ultimately Edens is a shrewd and successful businessman. He identified the two teams as investments and he has increased both their values massively.
When he bought Villa with Sawiris the value was an estimated £110 million, it now stands at £341 million according to Transfermrkt.
When he purchased the Bucks, according to Statista, their value was an estimated $312 million, their value now stands at $1,625 billion. His development of the clubs is truly amazing.
Edens is not only searching for success instantly with these teams, he has provided the foundations for long-term sustainable success in the future.
Previously it was Randy Lerner owning the Cleveland Browns and Aston Villa that hindered the development of both teams however, on this occasion, Edens owning two clubs is demonstrating a clear blueprint for success.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter: @pgr_analytics