Villa boss Di Matteo warns top-flight return will be tough
BEIJING (Reuters) - New Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo has warned that his side face a tough task returning to the Premier League at the first attempt after last season's relegation.
"It is going to be a challenge next season, the Championship is a very tough league," the Italian said at a news conference in Beijing hosted by Chinese Recon Group, whose chairman Xia Jiantong bought the former English champions for a reported 75 million pounds ($100 million).
"We know that it's probably more difficult than the Premier League. It has many, many former Premier League teams, they are looking to get back into the Premier League, like we do."
With funds available, the club will be among the favourites for promotion back to where Villa's chief executive Keith Wyness said the Midlands club needs to be.
"The Premier League is still the most important league in the world, is still shown in over 200 countries, and we know that Aston Villa should be playing in that league and at the top," Wyness said.
"Our priority for this next season must be to win promotion back to the Premier League."
Villa have been on a downward spiral since American Randy Lerner took over in 2006, finishing 16th, 15th, 15th and 17th in the Premier League before being relegated to the second-tier Championship last season.
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(Writing by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)