He admitted he had spent nowhere near the £1.7m quoted for Sylla's transfer and confessed Stoke and Newcastle could outspend Villa.
He said: "I saw a figure of what Sylla was meant to have cost and it was wrong. The fee of £1.7m is wrong and Dawkins came in on loan. Randy Lerner has been great and I knew the remit. But we couldn't afford anyone massive.
"Can we compete with Stoke and Newcastle? That's too high for us."